Advice needed - how long does someone need off work when their parent dies?

(22 Posts)
MirandaGoshawk Sat 08-Sep-12 11:36:00

My mum is 91 & has been in hospital for three weeks. She thinks the end won't be long.

I work pt in a shop & the background concern I have in my mind is starting to affect me, I'm giving out wrong change etc. although still pretty much being cheerful to customers.

I'm asking this question now so that I know what to expect should the worst happen - how long before I can hold it together enough to be effective at work?


OP’s posts: |
Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 08-Sep-12 11:40:24

I think it depends if you are involved in making the arrangements or not.

When my mum died, I took 3 days off work. The day before the funeral to travel there, the day of the funeral and the day after to travel back.

My brother made the arrangements with the undertakers, minister, and pub, so I wasn't needed (they did run everything past me, though).

EdithWeston Sat 08-Sep-12 11:41:23

Oh, I am so sorry.

There is no way to predict how much compassionate leave you might need. Can you talk to your boss about policy or precedent for taking time off? It's also worth having a word so they understand what is happening now and cut you some slack.

You may also need time off to deal with admin after the death - where I used to work had a set number of paid days for this in addition to compassionate leave, which could be paid or unpaid, usually the former.

changeforthebetter Sat 08-Sep-12 11:44:30

I am so sorry about your mum.

When my mum died I actually took two weeks off because she was hundreds of miles from where I was living so quick trips weren't practical. Also my DF was in shock so there was lots of practical stuff to do. I agree, speak to your boss. An understanding employer should be able to support you.

Tressy Sat 08-Sep-12 11:46:53

A long time ago now and I was handling the arrangements. I got a sick note from my doctor and he suggested staying off until after the funeral. So it was a week and a day.

kirrinIsland Sat 08-Sep-12 11:47:40

Sorry to hear about your Mum, I hope she is comfortable and happy where she is.

TBH I don't think there is a one size fits all answer to this. I had 2 weeks off (end of maternity leave and I only worked 2 days a week anyway). For me, the distraction of work and "normal life" was beneficial, but others in my office in the same situation have needed more. I was also very lucky that my boss was great and going home if it all got too much was always an option.
You also need to consider how much sorting out (funeral, personal effects, will etc) there will be and what help you will have with this as those arrangements can take up a lot of time so you might need time off for that. A friend has just had 2 weeks off to clear her dads house and get it ready to sell for example.

Sorry to sound so practical at such a hard time sad

OlympickingMyNose Sat 08-Sep-12 11:59:22

When my fil died Dh took 2 weeks off, but, his dad lived on his own and Dh an only, except very young half sisters in another country. 2 weeks wasn't enough really, there was so much to do. Ring lots of people to tell them he'd died, organize the funeral, clear out his flat (it was a council flat so had to give keys back) sort out all his bills and paperwork. With very little help from anybody else. All the best op

MirandaGoshawk Sat 08-Sep-12 13:33:36

Many thanks to you all. kirrin practical is good! Olymp - yeah, I'm the only dch too although there are lots of people interfereing trying to help who I will be able to turn to. No doubt I will be back to you all for some more advice at some point.

She is a couple of hundred miles away. I work Mondays & Fridays so I've been going up there Tues & coming home Thurs, which has been OK.

I've warned them at work but it might be difficult because we're going to be short-staffed for 6 weeks due to people on holiday.

I understand completely about different people having different needs. But you've given me info & food for thought. Thanks. smile

OP’s posts: |
janey68 Sat 08-Sep-12 15:06:05

There is no one size fits all. I'd just add that you shouldn't feel obliged to stay off longer than you feel you need either. One of my work colleagues left work early when the news came through that her father had died (he'd been in hospital a while so not unexpected). She came to work as usual and took the day of the funeral off a week later. There were a few mutterings behind her back about how it was strange that she didn't take lots of time off, which I felt was unfair and unpleasant . This woman obviously felt she coped better by continuing her routine and keeping busy. So don't feel pressured into feeling there is a minimum 'respectable' time period. There isn't.

MirandaGoshawk Sat 08-Sep-12 16:57:22

OK, fair enough. There always seems to be pressure about how people 'should' behave in certain situations, doesn't there? E.g Mum has said she doesn't want cards. Just prayers. Bizarre, maybe, but I know there are mutterings. Her rationale is that there are people in the hosp who don't have cards or visitors & Mum doesn't want to 'show off' or to make her f&r pay for cards/stamps. She is a very unusual lady & sometimes it's hard to understand her pov but people should respect it!

OP’s posts: |
Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 08-Sep-12 16:58:46

Good advice, Janey.

I think it must be very different for an unexpected death, or a death of a young person. But someone who has had a long and good life isn't really grieved over - their life is celebrated.

The OP is doing the right thing by spending time with her mother when she is still here.

The time after death is really dictated by the practicalities of the funeral and then house-clearing.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 08-Sep-12 17:02:53

If your mum has made it to 91, she's entitled to her 'bizarre' opinions smile

MirandaGoshawk Sat 08-Sep-12 17:08:46

Knows - It occurred to me yesterday that I've spent more time with her in the last three weeks than since I left home sad Although that may be because we usually can only go ten minutes without an argument but since she's been ill I've just agreed with her!

OP’s posts: |
lizbee156 Sat 08-Sep-12 17:21:02

My Dad died (completely) unexpectedly. By coincidence I was off work anyway so in total it was 3 weeks before I went back. To be honest, given the circumstances of his death I might have taken that long anyway, regardless of the fact I was on annual leave.

When my fil died after a long illness my DH went back to work two days later and worked the week but then it all hit him and he took the following week off and went back after the funeral.

OP I'm sorry about your Mum, remember to be kind to yourself.
Sending you unMN ((hugs))

MirandaGoshawk Sat 08-Sep-12 21:53:33

liz thanks for the hugs. smile The 'after the funeral' is a good benchmark, thanks.

I have been through this before, with my Dad, but I wasn't working (SAHM with two babes) and it was different - Dad had been ill for a long time & had dementia so I felt he had 'gone' a while before he died & had time to get used to it. But I remember the funeral being a 'full stop'. Everything felt in limbo until then.

OP’s posts: |
madasa Mon 10-Sep-12 07:42:55

When my dad died I took the standard 5 days compassionate leave that my firm offers.

I went back to work and a month later lost the plot during a training session that touched on losing a parent.

I was then off for 9 doctor signed me off for those days.

As others have said , there is no one answer.

Sorry to hear about your mum.....take care of yourself x

MirandaGoshawk Mon 10-Sep-12 11:54:10

Yeah, I'm worried about losing the plot. have already given wrong change once

The problem at work is this: (might have to be new thread but I'll give it a go since you all seem to be know these things)

My bosses are a DH & DW who own three shops. They each man one of them full-time, with some help from students in the summer. The third shop is manned by 5 staff, all working part-time, am or pm, on their own, two or three sessions per week. We all have other pt jobs/commitments too. when someone is on hols the others are asked to do more shifts, but this is always booked well in advance because involves shuffling of other jobs/childcare etc. It's always a problem, as are sick days (only one of those in the shop in my 2 yrs & someone was able to cover).

I've asked if they could train someone up for emergency cover, but they said not possible because they couldn't offer that person regular shifts. So if I have to have time off they are in deep doodoo.

Thoughts pls.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Mon 10-Sep-12 12:08:39

First of all, I'm sorry that you are struggling with this.
I also agree with everyone else that, in truth it depends so much on the circumstances.
The thing about your mind not being fully on the job doesn't stop when you go back to work, or after a week or a month or a year I'm afraid, it just hits you at odd times. eg, I got a bit emotional yesterday over my Dad's death 9 years ago, and it's not an anniversary or anything, we were just talking about something that I thought it would be great if I could show him.
You can't realistically never go back to work.
Personally, I found the 'routine' of my normal life helped enormously. From a practical point of view, you also have Tue, Wed, Thurs., Sat and Sun each week to make necessary arrangements. I'm sure one of your colleagues would cover you the first week, but, to be totally honest with you I would expect to be available (if a bit emotional) after the first week.

Flosie1989 Mon 10-Sep-12 13:36:32

I'm so sorry to hear about your mum being so unwell.

When my mum died I took 3 weeks off compassionate leave and then I returned. However I was very much not ready to go back, as soon as I walked through the door I burst into tears. I went straight to the doctors and was signed off for a further week on bereavement leave (unpaid). When I did go back I was still very unsure if I was ready but like the others have said, a normal routine helped a huge amount. Although I had a meeting with my boss who agreed that I could do slightly different tasks/duties for a whole do I wasnt front of house like usual. Is there anyway that you could do the same? Take on different tasks so you're not right out there?

I agree with the others though, the amount of time you take off completely depends on the circumstances and how you're feeling at the time. Just see how you go.

MirandaGoshawk Mon 10-Sep-12 19:32:37

Thanks, backforgood & Flosie for your kind words. I've warned work, anyway.

I've been holding it together fine - or so I thought - until now. Today I'm a chocolate teapot. I think it's because we had a chat about the funeral, and her wishes, insisted on by someone who came to visit. Made me sad & brought back horrible memories of my Dad's funeral which was awful. Sorry to be miserable. I'll be OK when I see her again - am going up on Weds.

OP’s posts: |
Flosie1989 Mon 10-Sep-12 19:49:11

Your welcome miranda and please don't apologise. You're not being miserable at all. It is a difficult time for you. Just take each moment as it comes, try not to think too far ahead.

chipmonkey Mon 10-Sep-12 21:28:46

What an awful time for you, Miranda.
I took a week off work when my Dad died. So did my sister.
I would think it's probably the norm.
<<<HUGS>>>> to you.

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