good life, good death, good grief

Scottish Bereavement Friendly Workplaces Toolkit

Case Study 4

"I work for a large national, public sector company and while there are policies in place, it's really down to the discretion of the manager.

My own personal experience was incredibly positive.

My Uncle G was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in October 2014. We were a close family and the only family Uncle G had. I told my line manager, Dave. He so kindly told me to take whatever time i needed, for treatment, to spend time, whatever that may be. I took Uncle G to the Beatson for a few months while he tried chemo. After deciding that wasn't working, he halted treatment. By April 2015, he had deteriorated quite badly and was in and out of hospital. All the time, I was told to take what time I needed. The same stood when he moved to hospice care.

And when the time came, determined to be a conscientious employee, I took my laptop to the hospice to stay. I called Dave to say we were now at days. Again, kind, reassuring, he told me to take the time I needed and to not have any regrets. I insisted I would have my phone on so I could reply to emails etc at least.

I didn't get a single email.

When Uncle G died, I took a week off. And during that week I received a beautiful bunch of flowers from my team, offering their condolences.

When I did go back to work, I realised I hadn't had a single email from the time I called Dave to say Uncle G was actively dying. I mentioned it to my project manager and he told me it was because Dave had emailed them all to divert all emails to him as I needed that time. When I later thanked Dave for kindness and compassion, he explained he had been in the same situation with his father.

I've never forgotten that. And I'm so grateful for that act of kindness that allowed me to do what I needed to do and be present with Uncle G. Dave made a very difficult time by being kind, human and incredibly supportive."

Photo by J Lee on Unsplash

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