Feb 2, 2013

Balancing Grief , Priorities, and Work

The loss of a loved one is excruciating for anyone.  This is especially true when it involves parents, a spouse, siblings, or children.  My family is currently managing this day to day and hour by hour.  We are in the midst of balancing all of our normal obligations that do not pause for crisis.  Work does not stop, bills do not pay themselves, and we selflessly prioritize. 

We are not the first to experience these difficulties and we will certainly not be the last.  Are there life lessons from these days, weeks, and months?  Can anything good come of this?  Most definitively...yes!  

If you work for a large corporation or a small business, you have seen the 30 second commercials for practicing “work-life balance”.  Companies encourage employees to take time off and exercise FMLA if necessary.   But, what does this employee benefit really mean to you?  What decisions will you have to make when taking time off?  Will the position remain open when you are capable of returning to work?

Life goes on and shareholders focus on earnings. Senior executives tolerate shareholder pressure, execute strategies, and focus on the bottom line.  Respectfully, most all of these employees would pride themselves with having strong family values. In many instances the grieving employee is part of their team.    

Confused with managing a personal crisis while working for a large corporation, I am faced with the following questions.  
  • Is my behavior normal? 
  • Will it help to explain to co-workers why I am sad and distracted?  People want to understand why performance may change.  Right?
  • Is it permissible [acceptable] to lean on co-workers for temporary coverage?
  • Why is my employer advising me to hide the most significant life event I may ever face?
  • Is there compassion for employees within my organization? 
  • Does my company realize the significance of healthy and satisfied employees?
  • How many people, like me, face decisions involving work/life crises every day? 
  • How does one prioritize illness at home with requirements at work?  
Forgone is the humanistic sharing once practiced by profitable companies that emotionally invest in their people. The tenderness and time spent with my loved one should not be deterred by revenue shortfalls, client meetings, or corporate greed.  

Should you be lucky and wise enough to effectively manage a great group of people, ask yourself this.  Are you providing the compassion and support that you wish for your very own family?  

If you are an employee struggling with grief and work-life balance, reach out to human resources and ask about your bereavement benefits and options.  If you have an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan), contact them to discuss your grief and where to find support.

My decisions and priorities were clear and without struggle.  This is my wish for you.

I write this first as a daughter, second as a person faced with work-life balance concerns, and finally, as an employee.  God Bless.

Disclaimer:  The contents of this blog and this post is not intended to advise or make specific recommendation to its readers.  Please be responsible and seek counsel and professional guidance from Human Resources and other pertinent sources.

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