Bereavement and the Work Family

dad feb 2012The last two weeks have been tough ones.  My father, pictured here, died on December 9th.  He had Alzheimer’s, and the last few years have been one long goodbye.  My sister, daughter, husband and I were fortunate to be with him when he died.  And when he died, he was holding our hands and listening to a 50 year old recording of his mother singing.

This was a beautiful ending, but the aftermath is still devastating. Anyone who has lost a love one knows how life altering these events are.  It’s hard to concentrate on your job when you feel that the earth has shifted under your feet.  You feel sad, disoriented, and uncertain about what comes next.  How your employer handles bereavement makes a huge difference in your ability to manage work and life during this transition.  I am lucky, not only that my manager allowed me the days I needed to make all the necessary arrangements, but even more so for the outpouring of kindness from my coworkers.

Our work relationships can be complicated, with the prevailing wisdom often encouraging us to maintain an arm’s length distance from our coworkers so that emotions don’t cloud business decisions.  Be cordial, but not too friendly .  Focus on the work.  Don’t reveal too much about yourself or you might give people the ammunition they need to sabotage you.

I’ve broken these commandments over and over again.  Sometimes that’s come back to haunt me, but mostly it’s led me to a lot of longstanding friendships with people I work with or who I’ve worked with in the past.   Fortunately, as I experienced this week after returning from bereavement, most of my coworkers don’t take these “commandments” too seriously either.  Their outpouring of support, though not unexpected, reminds me one more time why I love this company and my (work) family.

We’re reading this week:

The Goal: Innovate Your Company Out of Business http://ow.ly/rNRuk via @hrbartender

Holiday Bonuses: Great If You Get One, But Don’t Get Your Hopes Up http://ow.ly/rNWNM via @TLNT_com

Lucky ’13 — or Not? http://ow.ly/rNX7w via @HRExecMag

Mindfulness: It’s the Key Quality Managers Need During the Holidays http://ow.ly/rTAkg via @TLNT_com @ChinaGorman

Kronites are writing about:

New Time Well Spent #Cartoon: http://ow.ly/rNZgv #santa #happyholidays #WFM

Learn to tweak your Kronos reports – tomorrow… http://ow.ly/rX7iN via @SmarterCafe

West Wing Story: The Affordable Care Act http://ow.ly/rSJjG via @SmarterCafe #ACA

How Hard Are Your Elves Working Santa? http://ow.ly/rSJAE via @simonmacpherson

Unlocking the Big Value of #BigData http://ow.ly/rSJDn via @fmoreno44

Listen to @WF_Institute’s podcast on the future of #bigdata: http://ow.ly/rTyGu

A storm named Java http://ow.ly/rTyLW via @SmarterCafe

“Predictions!” http://ow.ly/rX7mm via @SmarterCafe

Please share your comments