Employers don’t know what they don’t know

Grief Diaries

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.

Three days.

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.

You matter.

Together we can make change. And the world is starting to listen.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell

Grief Diaries