Losing Mum and The Importance Of Kindness In The Workplace

Posted in : HR Updates on 5 June 2020
Olga Pollock
firmus energy
Issues covered: Bereavement; Grief; Policies and Procedures; HR Matters; Kindness

On the 25th May 2020 I watched my lovely, kind, unassuming mum take her last breath; the same woman who had watched me take my first when she brought me into the world. I got the chance to say goodbye; to tell her it was ok and that I loved her. And then she was gone, ever so peacefully, as the sun shone through the window and the birds continued chirping outside. Grief is a funny thing. As I write this, one week on, I have yet to shed a tear. Instead I feel empty and numb. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s not like I wasn’t expecting her to die. I was told on my son’s birthday in January that she had reached ‘end-of-life’ and probably only had a matter of weeks left. She lasted another four months. I suppose in many ways I have done most of my grieving. Back in October 2016 when she was diagnosed with ‘treatable but incurable’ cancer, I had to accept that the disease was terminal. I watched her as her health deteriorated over the years, and the life drained slowly from her. So, her death was not a shock but nonetheless heart-breaking. 

My immediate family life hasn’t changed. I am still a wife and a mother of two energetic children. The Tesco shopping still needs done and the bins still need left out every other week. Life goes on yet it will never be the same again. I am not sure why I feel emotionless most of the time. I understand it’s normal; like a defence mechanism and then the tsunami of sadness will overwhelm me at some stage. There are times I feel angry and other times I feel regretful at the hurtful things I said to mum or things I perhaps didn’t do. Then there’s the guilt at feeling relief that’s she’s gone and no longer suffering. Again, all normal feelings I am told. The days since her death have been a bit of a blur filled up with sorting out funeral arrangements, dealing with her affairs and emptying her apartment. Memories are unearthed and precious keepsakes discovered, like her and my late father’s wedding album and her engagement ring which I now wear on my left hand. 

I have not voiced my feelings much which I know is not healthy, so I suppose the main reason for writing this article is that I find it cathartic. Grief comes to all of us throughout our lifetime. Many of our employees will lose loved ones during the course of their employment. Just because they may appear fine, doesn’t necessarily mean they are.  A simple, ‘how are you?’ can be enough to allow that person the freedom to talk and act as an emotional release, in just the same way we ask someone with mental health issues. I have been offered genuine compassion and support by my employer and in the weeks’ leading up to my mother’s death.  A kind word goes a long way and to be given the time and space to grieve, or deal with all the practical things, goes a long way and will never be forgotten. 

Everyone reacts differently to bereavement. Some will need time off work to come to terms with what has happened while others will prefer to get back to work sooner. Knowing that your employer is there to offer support and be flexible is one of the kindest things that can be offered to someone when they need it most. The measures in place to deal with bereavement in the workplace extend well beyond a policy but to the human heart of the organisation. Employees are much more than resources. They are people with feelings and lives that extend well beyond work and we must never forget that.

Useful Reading

Cruse Bereavement Care https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/local-services/northern-ireland/northern-ireland


This article is correct at 05/06/2020

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Olga Pollock
firmus energy

The main content of this article was provided by Olga Pollock. Contact telephone number is +44 (0)79 7389 3448 or email oppollock@firmusenergy.co.uk

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