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Support before and after bereavement

(31 Posts)
gaelicsheep Sun 09-Feb-14 16:45:14

Hi. I know what to expect - zero, except for kindly allowing me to take unpaid leave to nurse my dying mum. I know I'm expected back into work on Monday (Mum died on Thursday evening) and I have to because I can't afford any more unpaid time off, plus I've used two of the allotted three weeks already and I need time off for the funeral next week.

My question is, what would you normally expect? It is very clear to me that being signed off would be frowned on and would obviously go on my sickness records for all future employers to see. I guess I'm trying to understand if my employers are being unusually unsympathetic, or if it's normal. My contract allows for two days compassionate leave in any one year, but I'd already taken that for my husband's hospital appointments.

Honest answers appreciated please. Don't beat around the bush for fear of upsetting me. Just don't know what to do tomorrow. I still feel numb and unable to interact with my children effectively, let alone clients. I've been trying to fast track my feelings by spending a lot of time by myself and sleeping, but I'm not sure it's working fast enough. The last week of caring for Mum was really harrowing and I can't get it out of my mind. I know not one single person in my team (mostly geeky males) will really understand.

SauvignonBlanche Sun 09-Feb-14 16:49:54

I'm very sorry for your loss.
When I lost my Mum I had one week's compassionate leave and I took one week of annual leave.
I ended up with an awful chest infection (probably run down) so also had one week of sick leave.

Two days is pretty poor, is that a standard policy?

kimlo Sun 09-Feb-14 16:53:38

when my grandad died I walked out of a shift as soon as I found out. My boss completely understood what had happened and never mentioned it. I then had the next day off paid, I was off for 3 days anyway after this because of the weekend. I went in to work on the monday and my boss said what are you doing here? we weren't expecting you to come in. I also had 2 days off the next week for the funeral.

all of this happened with in 3 weeks of me returning from maternity leave.
you cant work please go to your doctor and get signed off you need to look after your self.

Im sorry about your mum.

BadlyStuffedWalrus Sun 09-Feb-14 16:56:28

When my partner died, work let me take a month off unpaid. If you've been caring for your mother and are completely exhausted there's no shame in asking to be signed off sick. It's utterly draining. Many sympathies for your loss.

gaelicsheep Sun 09-Feb-14 17:02:47

Oh gosh, I don't know what to do. I feel like if I take sick I'll end up with some kind of disciplinary warning, or certainly I'll be on the hit list in the event of having to let people go. I've been struggling a lot over the past few months, with the various things going on (a difficult relocation, DH's health and my Mum's illness), but I can honestly say the quality of my work hasn't suffered (although the quantity may have done). They have been flexible to the point of allowing me to build up more flexi time than is normally allowed, but at the end of day I have to make that time back up.

I asked to bring forward extended leave that's normally allowed after May, which would have given me one third pay rather than zero, but this was declined. Apparently the Federation of Small Businesses doesn't recommend varying Ts and Cs under any circumstances?

It's not like I've been caring for Mum close to home. I was staying with them away from my DH and DCs for nearly two weeks. Mum had a horrible cancer and eventually died of a total bowel obstruction, so it was a very distressing time (although I will never EVER regret being there for her). But I only got back home Saturday morning and have had to deal with the DCs grief, so I actually don't feel prepared for work tomorrow. When I emailed saying what had happened and that I'd be back on Monday, I kind of hoped they might say I could take more time if I wanted, but they didn't, nor did they even offer any condolences.

fedupandtired Sun 09-Feb-14 18:48:21

So sorry to hear of your loss.

My mum died two years ago and I'd not long been in my job and to be honest what they thought didn't enter my head at all. I was off for a few days before she died and went back two days after the funeral. I did get signed off just to cover myself but all the time I had off was unpaid (didn't earn enough for SSP). Do what you need to do and worry about work at a later date.

flowery Sun 09-Feb-14 18:58:55

Sorry about your mum OP

Two days paid compassionate leave in a contract is fairly standard, however, for context, if it actually came to it, most of my clients are small businesses and none of them would expect you back tomorrow in those circumstances. Most of them would probably do similar to Sauvignon's employer.

Geoff0409 Sun 09-Feb-14 19:52:09

Hi gaelicsheep ,
So sorry to read your very sad post. Please accept sincere condolences for your Mum. Unfortunately while 2 or 3 days leave is pretty standard for the loss of a parent, alot depends on the company. When I worked at head office of a very big bookmaker, my friend's Dad died and he was off for about 3 weeks. They didn't even query it. Now that I work for a small company I have no doubt they would treat me the same way you are being. Someone we work with's Mum died about 3 years ago now, she died on a Thursday after a long illness, he was off Friday, back in Monday and Tuesday all while trying to finalise the funeral arrangements, was then off on the Wednesday for the funeral and then back to work on the Thursday. I was absolutely appalled at this. I think some companies just stick to what the basics are and do not deviate or really allow any compassion. If I ran a company I know what I would do, but that's not what most do. Lots of love and best wishes for this sad time. Just do your best, that's all you can do thanks .

HermioneWeasley Sun 09-Feb-14 19:54:42

I don't know of anyone who wouldn't at least express condolences. Compassionate leave varies hugely, but your employers do sound at the harsh and unsupportive end.

I am so sorry to hear about your mum, but glad you got to be with her at the end - as you say, you'll never regret doing that.

ChoudeBruxelles Sun 09-Feb-14 19:55:48

I would getto the gp and get signed off. IMO it's too soon to go back to work and function properly

Supermum222 Sun 09-Feb-14 21:41:27

So sorry about your mum.
Your employers sound so mean. I am NHS and many colleagues have lost parents over the years. All of them had 3 or 4 weeks off (loss of parent). You need more than a couple of have been through a lot. Get a sicknote if u need to.

gaelicsheep Sun 09-Feb-14 21:52:20

Let's say I'm going back to work tomorrow with the comfort that I don't intend them to be my employers for much longer. I've always hated the company culture, and this is the metaphorical nail in the coffin (which I know is horribly inappropriate in the circumstances).

JeanSeberg Mon 10-Feb-14 10:37:21

I hope all goes well today gaelic.

My mum died last year and my boss was very supportive. I chose to take 6 days off over a 2-week period and go to existing customer meetings but that was my choice, I could have had longer off if I'd wished. She died at a weekend so I emailed him and his response was to offer sincere condolences and not to worry about work.

If you were one of my staff members, I would come to an arrangement that allowed you to take more time off and offer counselling if you felt it was appropriate.

For what it's worth, I think you've made a good decision to make this the catalyst for changing jobs. My mum's death freed up a lot of headspace (she had Alzheimer's and I'd had 5 years of her being in residential care 70 miles away) and I am now about to leave jobs too, not something I could have considered before.

You could look at it that it's your mum's legacy to inspire you to leave. thanks

Let us know how it goes today.

gaelicsheep Mon 10-Feb-14 12:36:13

Hi there. Well let's just say I've been overwhelmed by the level of sympathy displayed by my boss and colleagues. (Let's just say only one person has asked after Mum or me, and they clearly hadn't been informed what had happened). My boss is just blanking me, so that's lovely isn't it?

I wonder, do they think that because her death has been on the cards that I am somehow not suffering? I watched her die a horrible death, with a much quicker decline than anyone had ever expected. How can they think I would be OK after that?

Mind made up I'm afraid.

flowery Mon 10-Feb-14 13:33:35

They sound awful, and (if it helps at all) not at all normal.

Good decision to move on.

gaelicsheep Mon 10-Feb-14 13:39:08

The trouble is that moving on really means moving back to our real home, which is where our life is. We only moved for this blooming job, but we still have our old house. But that is much further away from Dad and I promised Mum I'd look after him. Aaaargh, what to do. But I can't stay here, not now. I'm appalled and disgusted by this company.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 13:46:27

Sorry about your mum.
I've just noticed its a small business. I actually think they're probably being as accommodating as they can. A smaller business cannot absorb the losses as easily as a large one, and an employee off for any amount of tome cuts the workforce considerably. It's not what you want to hear, but it's a fact

JeanSeberg Mon 10-Feb-14 13:46:40

Hand your notice in today, OP. You'll feel liberated and relieved. Then you can concentrate on organising the funeral and getting your mum's affairs in order.

As for your dad, how far away will you be? Would there be any possibility of him moving with you, not necessarily into your home but perhaps into a flat/sheltered housing close by depending on how fit/well he is?

JeanSeberg Mon 10-Feb-14 13:47:43

Onesleep That's no excuse for not offering sympathy and support.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 13:49:18

Can I just say, I've worked in different public sectors and under no circumstances would 3/4 weeks even be entertained for the loss of a parent. So the poster that is in the NHS and says that's the norm doesn't realise how rare that would be. And no way could any private business support that.

gaelicsheep Mon 10-Feb-14 13:50:08

Onesleep - it's more the point that nobody has spoken to me at all since I came back in today, having had 1 working day off (unpaid) since my Mum died a horrible death before my eyes.

gaelicsheep Mon 10-Feb-14 13:51:32

It is also not a particularly small business. There are 40+ employees.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 13:52:30

I can see that. It sounds bad. I'm NOT condoning that, at all, but is it possible they're trying to give you a bit of space, for want of a better word? Wouldn't be my way, but it could be that. As to your colleagues not knowing, well it's your business, not for them to tell people, tbh.

gaelicsheep Mon 10-Feb-14 13:55:34

I couldn't say, but I think it's more that most of them are socially incapable.

The other thing that is really really pissing me off is that I could have easily been signed off sick, before the event or after. I have existing health problems and any doctor would have done it. But I have tried to do the right thing and instead of getting signed off, when I was in fact mentally incapable of working most of the time, I took two weeks of unpaid leave. More fool me I guess.

JeanSeberg Mon 10-Feb-14 13:56:09

Well it's a sad day when her own boss couldn't even take her on one side on her return to work and say "Good morning, gaelic, so sorry to hear about your mum. Please accept my sincere condolences and let me know if there's anything I can do to help. And here's a card just to let you know I've been thinking of you."

Jesus Christ.

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