Taking time to grieve

This past week I attended my grandfather’s memorial service. This was the first time in my life I’ve had someone close to me pass away. He lived a great, long, healthy life of 90 years. Though his passing wasn’t a surprise it still hit me and my family pretty hard. 

During the planning of the memorial service, my mom asked if I’d be able to take time off work in order to attend the memorial service, scheduled for a Wednesday. I didn’t think twice about taking off time - I was going to be there no matter what. 

My family means the world to me. Living in a city where I do not have other family, each moment we get to spend together is a momentous occasion. There are 14 of us that are directly related including cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents (plus a few significant others). Everyone lives at least a 4 hour car ride or plane ride apart. Being there for one another during this challenging time was critical. We all wanted to be there to support our grandma and her kids, including my mom. Being a part of this family and community is essential for us to continue to move on despite the sadness that comes with my grandfather’s passing.

As soon as I found out my grandfather’s health was rapidly declining, I reached out to my manager and let him know the situation. I told him that I’d need to take some time off to be with family. Fortunately, my manager is incredibly supportive and told me he was sorry to hear that and that I could take the time I needed. 

At this time I looked up the company’s bereavement policy. Most, if not all, companies will offer a period of time you are able to take off for the passing of direct relatives. Each company offers a different amount of time and has different rules on who the relative is, so check out your company’s intranet or reach out to your HR department for more info. It is important to understand the boundaries of the bereavement policy so you can plan your time off accordingly.

Upon hearing that my grandfather had passed, I told my manager I’d need to be out to visit with family. He told me to take the time I needed. It is an important distinction here between “needing” to take time off and “wanting” to. With the passing of a family member there is a need to take time off, therefore there is no reason to ask permission. I feel you should never ask permission to take time off regardless of the reason; however, the passing of a family member is something I feel you must be at to support the rest of the family. You should never feel guilty about taking time off to be with your family during a tough time. 

In order to prep my work for the time I took off, I pulled together a document of the status of my projects and shared that with my team. That allowed them to know who to go to in my absence. 

While I was out I made a point to focus on being present and in the moment. There was no need for me to think about what was going on at work. I took the time off to be with my family, so I left my computer and work mindset in the office. Why should I check my emails while I am away supporting my family? It is a matter of prioritization, and family comes first.

I am very thankful and fortunate to have a supportive, respectful manager that understands the importance of taking time to spend with family. I would’ve taken the time off regardless of the bereavement policy, but it is nice to know that my company respects my time and my family in hard times.  

The main point I want to get across with this post is to understand the importance of your family. Think about them first and work second. Be with them during tough times and show support. Your work will still be there when you get back. If you look back at that moment five years from today, you will remember the time you spent with your family. Whatever you were working on at the time will fall to the wayside - a small blip on the radar.

Thanks for showing me the importance of family, grandpa. We love you and will miss you!