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Thursday, August 05, 2010


Main Entry: be·reave·ment
Pronunciation: \bi-ˈrēv-mənt, bē-\
Function: noun

1. mourning: state of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one

Last night, I spent a lot of time dreaming about my papa. He had a history of heart issues and had his first heart attack in his early 40s. Still, it was unexpected when he had another in his early 60s. This time, it was too much. Suddenly he was gone and nobody had a chance to say goodbye. That was over fifteen years ago and there was no real reason I can think of to dream about him right now. But dream I did. In my dream, he was very sick and and we knew he didn't have long left. Everyone was coming to say goodbye.

Dreams have such power to set the tone for my day and this one left me sad and missing my papa. And then Joe told me that he'd just had a message from Auntie. Let me first explain "Auntie". She's not technically his aunt. She was his aunt - she was married to his mother's brother. But they divorced. Then his uncle passed away. However, Auntie is the mother-figure in Joe's life. She's the most loving, kind, accepting woman I've ever met and she's so good to both of us. So, the message from Auntie said that her brother passed away, very suddenly and totally unexpected. She was on the way to the airport but wanted to let us know.

All of which made me think about most company's bereavement policies. Here's ours:
When a death occurs in an employee’s immediate family, all regular full time employees may take up to three (3) days off with pay to attend the funeral or make funeral arrangements. "Immediate family" shall be defined to include spouses (including common-law spouses), children, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren (regardless of whether such family members are related by blood, adoption or marriage) and guardians.
Based on that, Joe wouldn't be able to take leave (as such) for Auntie.

State of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one. Loved one, not immediate family member. I don't think companies should get to define whose death meets the definition of "bereavement". When I rule the world, I will instead allow employees to define their own "bereavement" list. YOU list the people close enough to you that you would consider yourself "bereaved". Best friend? Nanny that your children adore? The woman who played the role of mother when your own was too cold to show you any kind of love? Oh yeah, go ahead and add some family members as well if you like. But that list goes in your file. And if those people should become ill and need your help, or if they pass away, you will be granted full privileges to do what you need to do.

If I've learned anything in my life, it's that blood relation doesn't guarantee love. It doesn't guarantee a damn thing, really. Maybe medical history. Sometimes the people who love us most are those who aren't related at all. The relationships are deliberately chosen, not forced because of something ridiculous like the results of procreation.

My thoughts are with you today, Auntie. I know you and your brothers and sisters are such a tight group and you're all hurting so badly. Bereaved by the loss of a loved one.

And my thoughts are with you too, Papa. I miss your Donald Duck voice and your silly songs. And turtle-shaped pancakes. And most definitely your hugs.


C. Beth said...

I like the idea of deciding in advance who should be included in your "bereavement policy." I'm so sorry for Joe & his Auntie!!

The Brown Recluse said...

I'm so sorry, Cate, on so many levels....
I believe there's significance to most of our dreams, though I can't always explain it.
My workplace has much the same policy. They forget that sometimes everything is not standard. Having your own bereavement list makes perfect sense, especially in today's world.

Caty said...

I'm sorry, Cate. I think work places really need to rethink their policies! I recently had my childhood best friend's father die and couldn't go to his funeral. He was like mine and my sister's 2nd dad throughout our childhood into our teenage years. We spent a lot of time with that family...

I'm sorry for Auntie's loss and your grief too...

Melinda said...

Again, I am so sorry for your family's loss. My family too is comprised of many "relatives" that are not really in any way related to me by blood or marriage. What does it matter how they come to be "family" they are your family and we should all be allowed the room to grieve for whoever we need to grieve for. What good would we be on the job when we are trying to come to terms with a loss anyway? I also think that a person needs more than 3 days to deal with the loss of an immediate family member (spouse, parent or child). That is not enough time to deal with the things you need to deal with let alone come to terms with the loss.

Debbi said...

hugs to you and Joe. <3

Eternal Lizdom said...

I think I have a lot to say... but you already said it so well. So I'll just give a hearty AMEN!

I'm so sorry for the losses your family has endured but am so honored that you shared their stories with us.

Toriz said...

That's wrong that definations are so streamlined. Especially with the mixed up family situations that happen these days. Plus, I agree. Sometimes it's the people who you choose to have as part of your "family" who mean more to you than those you have no choice but to be related to.

Mim said...

Family breavement policy is such baloney. 3 days - give me a break!!

it's interesting that you should dream in detail of your papa and then have someone close die...what was papa trying to tell you.

Be well and take care

Isabella said...

I'm sorry to hear about Joe's Auntie. :(

I agree with you on the bereavement policy. I was bounced around to different group homes/foster homes as a kid, so my "family" is not the traditional mother, father, etc.
I guess I wouldn't count in that case.