View Full Version : Managerial Condolences... Help please?
01-05-2012, 08:53 AM
I am in my early 30s, I manage a small office in the Bible Belt. Two full-timers (me included) and 4 part-timers. We've been together as an office for about 5 years - I'm actually the most recent addition to the staff here. We are all very friendly with each other, but I'm not from the same town as everyone else, and I'm also the youngest AND the manager, so I'm a little distant from everyone, socially and friendly-wise.
Last night, one of my part-timers lost someone in their family unexpectedly.
I know all the policies that apply for dealing with them being off work for a while, and all of the regular social things: get a condolence card signed by the whole office, send flowers...
What else can I do? I'm really upset about this, and I want to help, but I don't want to say the wrong thing or be intrusive or, or, or... I've only lost two people important to me in my own life, and both times I wanted people to GTFA and leave me alone for months. However, I'm shy, socially anxious, not a people-person, and clinically depressed. I realize that normal people would probably feel something different.
What should I do? I want to help....
01-05-2012, 09:01 AM
Can you send food?
When we lost my stepfather a few years ago, my mom had a house full of people and no one much felt like cooking. Friends and neighbors saved the day with pans of lasagna, sandwich trays, a whole ham, etc.
01-05-2012, 09:17 AM
Food is the preferred gift. If you want to use the opportunity to get closer then you should make something and take it over there.
If you just want to do something nice then I find a basket of fruit from Harry & David or similar is always appreciated. They're going to get a lot of starchy casseroles and brownies, so fruit and Veg made ready to eat are a great addition.
Glory just reminded me that a spiral-sliced ham is incredibly helpful too.
01-05-2012, 09:31 AM
You should ask about the services and try to attend if possible.
01-05-2012, 10:16 AM
As long as you're sincere, you can't do the wrong thing. Give your condolences and anything that you think is fitting. Food or flowers are good (my mother was very gratified when a friend of my daughter sent her flowers when my father died).
01-05-2012, 11:18 AM
You should ask about the services and try to attend if possible.
I wanted to, but I worried that would be weird of me. I'm really not good with this whole work/social relationship thing.
As a follow-up to some of the other comments in the thread:
I don't want to use this as a chance to get closer to the person, I like our working relationship the way it is - we're acquaintances and workmates. As weird as it (constantly) is to me, I'm the boss, and I don't WANT a close relationship with the people who work for me. That just gets awkward.
I just really feel bad for them, and I want to be supportive and show that I don't think my co-workers are just faceless drones or replacable worker-bees, or that I only care about their lives in context of when they'll get back to work.
I want the person to know that I feel really bad about this, and that if I'm asked for help or something, that I'll be totally willing to help wherever/however I am able.
That's what's making me a little weird - I don't want to presume, but I don't want to be distant and ignore this tragedy.
Food advice is very welcome. I think I will do that. Just have to decide what to give.
Do other people think that attending the service would be ok?
01-05-2012, 11:21 AM
My employer. 11 people in the office did absolutely nothing when my parents passed. It's nice to know that u are doing what u are doing. Not everyone thinks its obvious.
01-05-2012, 11:23 AM
Attending the service is a tough call - I don't think I would like it if a manager came to a funeral of one of my loved ones, but other people would see it as a nice, personal touch. If they're having a wake or something after the official services, maybe you could show up there with a food gift of some kind, stay for a few minutes, then leave.
I think telling her what you've told us here would be appropriate - that you're very sorry for her loss, and you want her to know that you're there for her if there is something you can do to help her.
01-05-2012, 11:24 AM
Not only do I think that attending the services would be OK, I think that it is almost mandatory. At a company that I used to work for, a project manager lost his wife after a bout with cancer, and the director of his group flew in from the corporate office a few states away to attend the wake. Also, one of the most touching things that I ever encountered was a professor from another culture attend the wake for a co-student of mine who lost her father. The professor had no idea whatsoever what protocols were, but bravely came to the service to support her.
Go to the service.
01-05-2012, 11:40 AM
Good advice all around from everyone.
On this topic:
I know all the policies that apply for dealing with them being off work for a while
Please, for the sake of humanity, try to be flexible with whatever policies are in place. I find the usual "3 days bereavement leave" to be woefully inadequate in circumstances where a direct family member has died. I don't know what policies you have, but if you can be as flexible as possible at this time I'm sure that would be greatly appreciated.
01-05-2012, 11:59 AM
Another Bible-belter here. Attend the services. It will be appreciated.
01-05-2012, 04:11 PM
If there's a wake, you should really try to go for at least a couple of minutes. My father's wake was 3 hours long, and a stream of managers and coworkers from both my and my husband's workplaces helped keep me distracted as I made introductions, showed people photos, got food, and took a couple of minutes to catch up, crack a joke (the funeral home had a "crowd surfing Jesus" statue hanging at the front of the room that I pointed out to everyone). Getting through the days and weeks after his death was a succession of "ok, now how do I get through this minute?", and distractions were often welcome.
01-05-2012, 04:21 PM
Attend a viewing rather than the funeral if you can, and send a variety of baked goods the morning of the funeral as their house will be fuller than usual that day. I've found it's always appreciated. If you can't find a delivery place at such short notice, go to a store bakery and get a selection and a fruit tray to drop off yourself.
It's very likely your employee won't remember in a few months that you did these things and that's just fine; you're not looking for appreciation here, simply being there for support when needed at a painful time.
01-05-2012, 04:23 PM
Let everyone in the office who wants to attend the funeral - with pay. Close the office if you need to.
Send flowers or a sympathy card, signed by you, as well as the office card.
Let the employee know that you'll be as flexible as possible to accommodate his needs.
01-05-2012, 10:15 PM
What does "someone in their family" mean? Child, spouse, sibling, parent, or 3rd cousin-in-law once removed? Those are very different losses. Parent aged 50 killed in a car crash or parent aged 98 dies after 4 years of cancer treatments?
Are you in a small town or a big city?
I'd feel real weird if any of my managers or co-workers had attended my parents' funerals. OTOH, if I lost my wife or a kid I'd probably be glad to have friends from work present. Note I said friends from work, not just headcount from work.
You can't go wrong giving the bereaved worker whatever time off they need & offering other non-specific support. Also, there's no harm in asking the other workers what they want to do to help. You can lead in getting the ball moving, but let them decide collectively where you & they'll go with it.
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