Your Bereavement Policy Needs Work

I was going through some old posts from a Tumblr account I used to have. When I shut the account down a few years back, I saved some of the things I had written. I came across one post that brought back a wave of emotion and sadness as I read it. The post was about the death of our Golden Retriever, Dixie, a little over 3 years ago. I remember the grief and pain I felt in the weeks after she died. I was upset and I’m sure my work suffered. And while this was our family pet, this got me thinking about bereavement policies and how most don’t offer near enough time for employees grieve, heal, and recover during a time of loss of a loved one. 

Facebook recently roll out an enhanced bereavement policy for their employees. This is a huge step toward being a little more human and a little less policy driven for their people. While I understand there needs to be guidelines in place, I am not a fan of how companies legislate how many days a person can take to grieve. And, then take it further, to say who you are allowed to use bereavement time for.

Regardless of the relationship, companies should have bereavement policies that offer employees time to recover. If it’s an immediate family member, close friend, or even the loss of a pet, the feelings and emotions are all equally painful. Treat employees as adults and also provide them with added support by making sure they know all about your EAP. If you’re worried about abuse of this policy, address the abuser, not the empathy and compassion of your policy.

So take a look at all of your policies. Are they truly reflecting the needs of your employees? Do they err more on the side of common sense or bureaucratic nonsense? If the latter, put yourself in the situation. How would it feel to you?

Here is the post I wrote about my dog:

We lost our dog unexpectedly, yesterday. Although she was 13, and had a couple of tough days, I say, “unexpectedly” because I wasn’t totally prepared for it. I had a feeling her time was near. Maybe another week, a month or, selfishly, another year. But not another 6 hours. There was a weird feeling when I left the house, Friday morning. I gave her a scratch behind the ears and told her to hang in there. And, she gave me a look. A look that said, “I’m trying, buddy, I’m really trying.”

Today was the first morning. We didn’t sleep too well last night. I kept waking up, thinking I heard her shifting like she always did, beside my bed, to get comfortable. Naturally, I awoke at 6:30, like I have, for almost 13 years. Awoke to let her outside. Awoke to feed her. Awoke to see that wagging tail and that smiling face.

This morning, the house was calm and quiet. No clicking of her claws on the hardwood floors. No sound of her licking her paws or clanging of her collar. No quiet “woof” from her to let me know she was ready to go out.

Dixie never had a bad day. She was never in a bad mood. When we had a bad day, she was always there with a wag of the tail, that smile when she brought a ball, or a sock, or a toy, to you when you walked in the door. (The vet referred to her as the dog who smiled. Whenever she saw someone new, or you scratched her ears, she had a big smile on her face.) When either of us were out of town, Dixie was always by our side. She was always in the same room with us, and, more than likely, on the couch, in our lap.

Today, my heart is broken. When I walked in the door, she wasn’t there. At 6pm, there was no wagging tail or nudge of her muzzle to let me know she was ready to eat. But, I am comforted knowing she is not in pain anymore. I am so lucky to have such a great companion for almost a third of my life. She was always be a part of our family and will always be in our hearts.

Here’s to you, Dixie. I hope you finally get that rabbit you were always chasing. You are forever my girl, my friend and my joy.

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