Her name was Kristen. As editor of Human Resources Executive magazine, she contacted me for an interview about employee grief two years ago. Her own story is startling and sad, yet I was moved by her courage to publish an article about a big problem.
Her story? She was covering an expo in Vegas when she got a call that changed her world: her husband died from a heart attack. In shock Kristen returned to her hotel, packed her bags, faced a sleepless night, grabbed a morning taxi, sat through security and then a 6-hour flight home in mind-numbing despair.
Because she had used up her FMLA leave caring for her father in hospice earlier that year, Kristen was left with the allotted 3 days of bereavement leave—the national standard.
Three days to plan a funeral. And attend.
Three days to mourn.
Three days to transition from two to one. No longer part of a pair.
Three days before returning to the demands of her job.
It just feels wrong. Yet employers don’t know what they don’t know.
But we can help them. Together we can educate and inspire change for a better way.
How? Ask questions. Share experiences. Talk strategies. What kind of bereavement leave does your employer offer? If you don’t know, they probably don’t either.
Thankfully, they’re starting to listen. I just received word that Glen Lord and I will be presenting Managing Grief in the Workplace at a second national conference this year, this one in Salt Lake City.
I know we face tremendous work ahead. But it’s a challenge worth fighting.
Because employees are people. People matter.
Together we can make change. And the world is starting to listen.
The other day I was asked why I advocate for the bereaved to give to others as a way to heal. In the midst of autopilot, brain fog, and feeling utterly depleted before even getting out of bed, most have nothing left to give.
So here’s my explanation on why giving is good for the giver.
When one suffers a broken leg, it takes time for the body to heal. The fracture will always be there because once done, it can’t be undone, but strengthening the muscles and tissue around the break will help protect from further damage and promote healing.
Just like physical therapy is to broken bones, giving while grieving is therapy for the broken heart. It releases powerful dopamine and endorphins—a natural high, which are like little happy pills for brain pain. It’s also good for our body by reducing common grief banes—stress, anxiety and insomnia.
Does giving cure grief? No. Losing someone we love causes grief that cannot be undone. It is something we learn to live with moving forward. But we can soothe the rawness and strengthen the areas around the wound—our broken heart—through activities and actions such as giving.
What can you give when you feel empty inside? Give blood. Give a smile. Give a genuine compliment. Give blessing bags to the homeless. Give a car room to merge during rush hour. Give time at a homeless shelter, which serves as a powerful reminder that we’re not alone on the struggle bus. Give a hug.
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” In other words, helping others helps our own heart to heal. It truly does.
-Lynda Cheldelin Fell XOXO
A discussion about losing a child to a neurodegenerative disorder and the 5 stages of grief with Dianne Gray from the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation.
✔️Mom’s out of the hospital and feeling a little stronger each day.
✔️Dad came through surgery with flying colors.
✔️Move Mom and Dad into new home next week.
✔️Brother’s radiation treatments should be done by Christmas.
♥Kids are all doing well and home for Thanksgiving weekend. My mama heart is happy.
♥A warm roof over our heads and a table full of delicious homemade food. My belly is happy.
♥A laughter-filled night playing games with 3 generations. My soul is happy.
♥Our youngest son’s physics GRE score for grad school were posted late last night—top 14% in nation. Our family is doing the happy dance.
Life will always bring sorrow, but it will also always bring blessings. It’s up to me which ones I count.
When life brings more sorrow than joy, I make little mental deposits into the gratitude jar I hold in my heart. Today, your name is on one of those deposit slips.
Thank you for being part of my world. I am truly thankful.
-Lynda Cheldelin Fell
Cliff Backmann was murdered in cold blood in 2009 for his wallet. When a backlog of cold cases stood in the way of solving his dad’s case, Ryan Backmann harnessed the power of social media to help tackle crime and solve cold cases around the country. Watch his story.
#ProjectColdCase #crime #grief
I was asked today how I wake up every morning with hope in my heart. I paused for a moment, searching for words, and then it came:
I fought for it.
One morning after our daughter Aly died, I was laying in bed when I realized that grief had stolen the technicolor from my world, robbing me of the ability to appreciate much of anything. Still in my forties, I had a choice to make: either find a way to begin living or live my remaining years robbed of all joy. Because hope and happiness are intertwined like peanut butter and jelly, in order to restore happiness, I had to find hope.
From that moment forward, I made the effort to appreciate life’s beauty. Although not every day is beautiful, there is beauty in every day if you look for it. At first it was very, very hard to allow my heart to see or feel anything besides the deep anguish of loss, but determined, I forged on. I fought hard. It took time. Patience. And great effort. But it paid off.
My world filled with hope, beauty, and gratitude.
There are no good analogies when it comes to grief, but if you’re lost in the middle of nowhere, you can wait for help or start walking toward civilization. It’s okay to cry along the way and rest when you need to, but keep walking.
Keep fighting. Hope and happiness are on the horizon. And they’re both worth fighting for.
Lynda Cheldelin Fell
Suicide isn’t limited to mental illness or teen angst. Statistics show that 20% of suicides are linked to work, and the number of suicides that occur while on the job are rising at an alarming rate. Award-winning psychologist and White House speaker Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas tells why.
Following the loss of first her mother and then her daughter, Lo Anne Mayer was determined to connect with both through journaling letters . . . and was amazed when both answered back.