Creating Strong Family Leave and Bereavement Policies

June-July 2024
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My father recently died after a long life and a brief illness. In January, I made a trip from Seattle, where I live, to see him in New Jersey for what I knew would be our final visit. 

Months earlier, I had tentatively planned to facilitate a workshop in New York City with a colleague during the same trip — not realizing how dire my dad’s situation would be. I found myself mildly panicked on the way to the East Coast. I figured that if I got there on Wednesday and he passed away on Thursday or Friday, I could facilitate the workshop the following Monday — no problem. 

It was as ridiculous as it sounds. The days and weeks after my dad’s death were a blur of sorrow, nostalgia, family bonding and the odd minutiae of post-death planning. My mind was abruptly rendered foggy and flaccid. For weeks, I could barely hold or articulate a thought. 

Needless to say, I did not make it to New York to facilitate that workshop. Once I communicated what was happening to my colleague, she immediately took it on as a solo act and insisted that I not think about it. Our client was understanding. Workwise, I was incapacitated for a solid week. Once I reengaged, I was not my best self.

The whole episode forced me to think about how we deal with death and bereavement in the workplace, and how we can do a better job.


Return to Current Issue Culture & Well-Being | June-July 2024
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[fran rodriguez]

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