Someone else's grief: office edition
December 13, 2013 2:49 AM Subscribe
My boss' mother is dying. It's not about me, but: what am I not doing that I should be doing? What have I not even thought of?
posted by terretu to Human Relations (15 answers total)
My boss (with whom I have a great relationship - I'm her only subordinate, and we essentially do the same job but she's more senior and experienced than me, so there's been a lot of bonding over shared adversity and we're a tight team) is currently at home spending time with her mother, who is dying. Her mother lives with her, and they're very close, so it's naturally hitting her pretty hard.
We have fairly different views on death and dying, so me getting philosophical about it isn't likely to be much comfort to her (I'm an atheist with quasi-Klingon views on the body after death and a pretty bad relationship with my family, she's moderately religious and very close with her parents), but I'm not being a dick about this, obviously - it's her grief, which she's been dealing with for around a month since her mother's condition first became terminal.
What I've been doing so far is:
- Offering practical help - covering for her over the last month or so while she's had to take a lot of time off at short notice (we work for a really great company and her boss is the CEO, so this is fine from an organisational point of view) in a way that (hopefully) means she doesn't have to think or worry about work at all, offering to give her a ride home if she needs to get there quickly and her husband can't take her, etc.
- Offering unspecified help (I know from reading previous questions around grief that this can sometimes be more stressful than helpful for the recipient, but I'd feel bad if I didn't ask if there was anything else I could do)
- Offering sympathy/asking how she's doing/how her mother is doing (she's someone who would rather be asked and doesn't find it intrusive)
I completely 100% get that this isn't about me at all, but I do wonder if there's anything I haven't thought of that might help - my question, I guess, is: if you've been in a similar situation, is there anything else that a (twenty years younger, very awkward) close colleague could have done which would have helped? And is there anything beyond being understanding and covering work stuff if necessary which would have helped further down the line (when the initial frenzy of someone dying has settled down but you're still very much grieving)?
The only thing I can't really do is bring their family pre-prepared meals, as they live more than an hour's drive away from me, and my casserole is not edible.