good life, good death, good grief

Scottish Bereavement Friendly Workplaces Toolkit

Case Study 3

“My Dad passed away in early December, and I was alerted to it by police coming to my door at 2.00am.

I messaged my manager on my way to my Mum so that he was aware. I was unsurprisingly met with sympathy,and advised that I would be granted three days leave, which could be extended to six days at their discretion.

A few days later I was required to have a call with my manager. Within this call I was informed that I wasn’t expected to return before Christmas, and to use TOIL that was due to me. I felt further supported, but then I was probed for the story of my Father’s death. It felt intrusive and I felt as though I was reliving the trauma. The call was also a guise to obtain work information though, something my brain was struggling to deal with at that time.

During my leave period up until just before Christmas there were a further 2/3 calls for additional work information from me, but also still probing my emotional state. It was apparent that my news had been shared across many different people/teams as I was receiving messages. Messages that I know came from a good place, but as a very private person I found this very difficult to deal with. I had indicated from the start that I did not want any fuss.

On my first day back in the office I appreciated that a room had been booked for my manager and I to catch up on where my work was at, and also allowed me to be emotional in a semi-private place if needed (which I was!).

Despite having multiple calls in December with my manager to relay instructions and updates on my workload at that time, I soon realised that very little of my work had been dealt with. I also soon realised that my managed had told everybody I was dealing with prior to my absence of the date of my return to work and that I would respond to them the day I was back to work. This set very unrealistic expectations and caused additional stress. Beyond that initial morning, I was very much left to just try and catch up and get on with my backlog of work as well as trying to keep up with the new work coming in. I still haven’t caught up!”

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