The Answer

Author’s note:  No scientific evidence or cold hard statistics here folks, just an answer based on my experience.

What happened?

I suddenly became a widow at an age society considers to be “young.”

I did not see Joe’s death coming.  The night before he was vibrant, energetic, and having fun figuring out which TV and TV cart to use for the DVD player I brought for him and his roommate.  He was looking forward getting through rehab and home so he could walk Rommie.  The next day he was gone.

Doctor Said:

The odds of my becoming ill and dying within two years were great.

She did not say how great and I was too shocked and chicken to ask.  Try living with that thought in the back of your head.  Sometimes it makes its way to the front of your head and you have to work on pushing it back.

An example of this is me not finding a job and thinking:

“Well, guess the reason I am not getting interviews or job offers is because I will be dead by the second anniversary.”

The first year:

  • I wandered aimlessly without desire or motivation.  I sat on the couch or laid in bed on weekends to “store up” enough energy to drag my sorry behind into work the next week.
  • I knew who Michele and Joe were but now it was just Michele.  Who was I now that I was single again?
  • The only reason I got out of bed each morning was to let Rommie (golden retriever) outside as I did not want to lie in bed smelling pee and poo.
  • There was a fair amount of paperwork I had to do in order to get everything transferred into my name and get debts paid off or reduced so I could handle the monthly bills.
  • Just because I made it through the first year, did not mean I had made it 100% through my grief journey and was completely whole again. 

The second year

  • My mind became clouded with grief from losing my job.
  • My mind was still somewhat foggy from losing Joe.
  • Had to figure out who I was as a person and a professional. 
  • Had some desire and motivation but not the amount I wanted or needed.
  • Had another 12 months to deal with the fact that odds were against my making it to the second anniversary.

The Answer

Based on what I went through, the answer to how long do you wait before telling a grieving employee –

“I’m sorry, but we need you to perform at the level this job requires or we’ll have to let you go.”

Is Two (2) years.

Undoubtedly you have either choked on your cinnamon roll or spit coffee out your nose at the thought of dealing with a grieving widow for two years. 

The Next Step

Now that you know my answer, work with her in developing a plan to bring her back up to speed.

* If you work with her, I doubt it will take 2 years for her performance to be at the level you need. *

Coming tomorrow – Ideas for developing a plan.