Monday, August 31, 2015

A Little Compassion

It's all well and good that organizations provide their employees with bereavement leave, and I understand not all do so this is a luxury and not necessarily a right.  But when they do provide it there are so many policies surrounding it that it is almost a hassle to use it, not what you need in a time of loss.  Those who don't have it, should, it provides piece of mind to their long as you pay attention to what I have to say here.

Most places only cover what they call "immediate family", but everyone has a different definition of "immediate family".  For some it is just spouse, parents, and children.  For others they extend it out to brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even cousins.  For some it only covers your family, for others it covers your spouse's family as well.  Some cover step, some don't.

But here is what none of them take into account...Your relationship with the deceased.  Nobody cares that the person who died had a huge impact on you growing up, or that was the one person who inspired and helped you go to college, or that was the one person in your family you truly connected to.  Who cares if that one person was a second cousin, a great great aunt, a great grandmother, or some other "distant" relative.

It is assumed that people live in the 1950's nuclear family environment still.  Mom, dad, and kids live together in their little pod, and the rest of the families all live in their little pods and everyone gets together for Christmas, Easter, and maybe a Summer Reunion.  Guess what?  That's not the reality anymore, and hasn't been for a while.  Reality is more and more families are living together in multi-generational homes.  More and more people are seeing the benefits of spending time with their elders and gaining the knowledge of the past from them. 

And then you also have the other aspect, not every family has a nice, pretty, perfect family tree.  My family tree would look like a gnarly old oak tree if you were to map it out with two of  my great aunts being born just before my mom and being closer in age to her than her own younger sisters, so naturally she was closer to them and so was I.  My family tree also comes with trap doors, tree houses and zip lines, because you just never know what nut is going to shake loose whenever you start asking questions about family history.  The point is though there are some whose leaves are within poking distance that I have probably only spent hours with in my entire life, whereas there are others that I would have to scamper across the entire tree to get to that I spent so much time learning from and loving their company yet when the one I barely know passes I can get bereavement leave without a second glance, and the one who was the bigger influence on my life I have to find a way to get time off some other way.

Yes, I know there would probably be a couple who would abuse the system if it was opened up wider.  And honestly for those who family means so much, like me, it would make times of loss less stressful and more productive at work.  Instead of offering the 24 hours of leave being offered for "Immediate Family" perhaps they could offer just 8 hours for Extended Family, just so someone can attend the services.  It just seems so cold for this giant organism to decide who is most important to me based on dilution of blood.  If you are going to go by that then they are equally as unimportant because nobody has the same bloody parents!

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