I hope this is a post that no one ever needs. But realistically, I doubt that will be the case.
At some point in your professional career, you might need to attend a funeral for an employee. Or the funeral for an employee’s family member. We don’t think about this but there are lots of reasons. Maybe someone’s boss had a heart attack. Or a senior vice president’s son had a terminal illness. Or perish the thought, there was an accident at work.
Everyone processes grief differently. It wouldn’t be fair to assume that everyone knows exactly the right things to do when an employee dies or has a family member pass away. And I’m not talking about the company’s bereavement leave policy, although that is something to look at.
I heard a speaker earlier this year talk about losing her son to suicide. And the reaction of the company he worked at. They shared with her stories about his work and his contributions to the company. His manager and several of his co-workers came to his memorial service and funeral.
As the speaker was sharing her story, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to have a few resources available for managers and employees. If they are faced with this situation, they would know the right things to do.
The Grief Recovery Method provides resources to help individuals manage the grief process. Their site has books, blog articles, and a network of support counselors. If you want to get some sense of their offering, they do have a free eBook (registration required).
Everplans is a web resource focused on planning and organizing your life through a digital archive. They have resources related to aging, estate planning, and funeral planning. This article from their site is focused on “A Quick Overview of Proper Funeral Etiquette”.
These are just a couple of resources that might help should the need arise. We can’t make the assumption that every manager has experience dealing with death, funerals, and condolences. It’s not fair to expect them to attend funerals and memorial services without offering them some resources.
Let me add one last thing, because I’m sure some of you are thinking it. The way that companies handle these situations has a definite impact on culture and engagement. We all know it.
If you’ve been in this situation, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have resources that you share with managers when they’re faced with attending a funeral? Leave us a comment with your resources.19