Friday, July 11, 2008

Stress at Work After Death in Family

My boyfriend is dealing with a stressful situation right now at work with a colleague who is angry at him ... without going into details, pretty much unjustifiably so, and this particular colleague just lost a close family member.

I remember when my grandfather died, it was a MASSIVELY stressful time for my whole family. And that stress carried over to me personally. And I'm sure that stress carried over to work. I remember even telling a few people that I was extra cranky because of a death in the family and that I was working to de-stress and be less cranky. And as I found myself getting angry at work, I'd try to take a step back, think about whether there was really something happening at work that justified anger—and probably there wasn't.

But man, it's so hard to deal with logistical details of funerals, visitations, financial settlements, travel arrangements, etc., on top of all of the emotions of grief. And then you have to get back to work. Argh! That's a tough transition. Have other people had experience with this?


Dosube said...

My sister passed away April, 2008 at the age of 47. I had 1 1/2 days notice that her illnes was terminal - till then the Dr. only gave us hope. It was like having a rug pulled from under me.
I am the excutor of her estate and have been stressed to the max dealing with the banks and insurance companies. She had a will and everything was in order and yet it's a nightmare. There is not one bank that has not made a mistake or lost something.
Everyone seems to be making the rules as we go along.
I have been terribly stressed and the stress has definately affected me at work. Some days I can't event think straight. I can't sleep at night from all the anger and frustration that I have encountered during the day dealing with the estate. The more tired I get, the grumpier I am and I take it out on the people around me.

I am trying very hard to as you say take a step back but it's just not working.

My boss told me to stop acting like a victim and that I should move on. How does one move on after 3 months when you are still dealing with the death as your energy to heal has all gone to fighting the banks. I lived with my sister, she my best friend.
How long is long enough to greive after this kind of a loss.

However I do feel like a victim - I have a list of 12 ERRORS that the numerous banks I am dealing with have made. I just take a step forward and get kicked back 2 steps. My sister left a sizable estate to take care of.

Best thing is don't judge someone who has just had a loss in the family - and don't set a timetable for them to 'get over it'.
Your boyfriend has no idea of what his colleague is going thru - greif and how we handle it is different for all of us.

You don't explain what happened or if your boyfriend was buddies with this coleague. I am sure they are both to blame for the situation between them. Time to kiss and make-up. Stress and anger is bad for all of us - no matter what the cause. We always tend to take out our anger on those most close to us.


Jessica Knapp said...

Hi dosube. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry to hear about your loss, and doubly sorry to hear that things have been so difficult for you lately.

It's odd that we don't think about stress in relationship to death. When I look back at my grandfather's recent death, stress was the state I was in most frequently.

I think you get right to the heart of it when you point out how hard it is to grieve ... and then move on ... when your days are so consumed with details and logistics.

It sounds like your employer's being pretty rude. Telling someone to move on from a sibling's death after three months is a little insensitive, to say the least. I wish we had better etiquette for dealing with times like these—both for myself when it happens to me and for when it happens to people I know.

I wonder if it is another issue that could be helped by more open dialogue about death—more discussions, not being afraid to reach out to people who have lost someone, being willing to abstractly discuss how such things should be handled in the workplace. I have had conversations about eco-friendly policies, earthquake policies, sexual harassment policies, insurance policies ... but all I've ever seen on bereavement is a sentence or two in my benefits packet. No employer has ever discussed it with me. Maybe that should change.