Career, Uncategorized

Drama Queens

Drama Queens

Definition – Someone so overcome with grief they spend their days at their desks wailing, claiming no one understands (which no one else does), and pounds her desk, manager’s desk, or conference room table.  Her behavior disrupts other employees.   She enjoys being the center of attention. 

No Room

I can empathize with anyone who has suddenly lost a spouse at an age society considers “young.” However let me make one thing perfectly clear –

there is no room in the workplace for drama queens.

Realize This!

Drama Queens need to understand that while people are sympathetic and are willing to help, there is still a business to run.  In order for them to grasp that concept strict limits need set.

What Drama Queens Need

They need to be on extended bereavement leave, and/or medical leave.  While on leave they need help from a trained bereavement counselor and visits to their doctor so their health can be monitored. Drama Queen or not, the last thing your company needs is the sudden death of a coworker. (been there, done that, not fun.)

Weekly Meetings

Even though she is on leave, have her come in for weekly meetings so you can discuss her progress.  Set guidelines so she knows what you expect from her while she is on leave.  Have her provide proof for doctor’s visits and each session with a trained professional bereavement counselor. 

After she completes extended bereavement and/or medical leave and you can see improvement in her behavior, then she can return to work.  She will have to work under a mutually agreeable plan that includes weekly performance reviews.

First Year Anniversary

If you have given her medical leave, extended bereavement leave, and provided a plan to get her performing at the level the job requires but she is still a drama queen at the end of the first year, then you say:

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

Then put her on 90 day probation. Let her know what you expect from her during the 90 day period.  If there is improvement then renew the probationary period for another 90 days.  I would renew these probationary periods for up to a year.  

No Improvement

If at the end of the first 90 day probationary period there is no improvement, then giving her a 6 month severance package is appropriate.  Also hire an outside placement company to assist her with career counseling.

Above And Beyond

Yes it is a lot to put up with a drama queen. But you need to in case she decides to go wail and pound on an attorney’s desk after you give her a severance package.  You will need to prove that you went above and beyond the call of duty in helping the Drama Queen.

“Don’t Be Cruel”

Do not let her go during the first year of widowhood. 

If you do that, just sign your company over to her as there is not a judge or jury that will side with you, even if your employee is a drama queen. 

Letting someone go their first year of widowhood is cruel – period, end of story. 


  • No one grieves perfectly
  • Every person grieves differently
  • The nature of their relationship affects how she grieves (strained, head over heals in love)
  • The circumstances of the death affect her grief (murder, plane crash, hit & run etc…)
  • She was a good employee before her world got turned upside down, inside out and backwards in the blink of an eye.

 If you are confronted with the sudden death of a spouse, you might turn into a Drama Queen or King. 

You never know how you will react until you are in the same situation.

Career, Uncategorized

10 Plan Ideas

First Things First

There needs to be a meeting her first day back.  Those attending the meeting need to be her immediate supervisor and his/her supervisor and any member of upper management interested in her wellbeing.  The meeting’s purpose is to express support and a willingness to help her perform at the level you need. 

You may expect her to know what she needs but trust me the only thing she knows is her name and that she has a dead husband and now she is back to work with the expectation of performing as if nothing happened.


In the time it takes to blink her world was turned upside down, inside out and backwards at the same time.

Plan Ideas

  • Weekly Meetings– Hold weekly meetings to find out how she is feeling. Also discuss, set and review performance milestones designed to get her meeting job requirements.     
  • Job Buddy – Someone who knows her job and can provide support and assistance.
  • Feelings – Don’t force her to “stuff” her feelings.  Shoving feelings deep down inside will make her ill. It is not good for her mental or physical well-being.
  • Physical Health – Encourage her to see her doctor so she and her family know her health status.  Remember, I was told the chance of me becoming ill and dying before the second anniversary was great. 
  • Grief Counseling – Allow her time off to seek grief counseling either from a trained professional or a support group such as Griefshare.  
  • Holidays – The holidays are going to be especially tough the first year.  Her performance will probably suffer during these times so you may as well let her have time off for holidays and special family events.
  • Her Story – Let her share her story with co-workers so they have some understanding of what she had been through.  This can be done at a meeting if she feels up to it or through a Grief Letter she writes explaining:

The details of her husband’s death. (as much as she is willing to share)

Thanking everyone for their support.

Advising them what she needs to get through her grief journey.

Plan Ideas To Help Re-engage Her Brain

  • Special Projects – Let her have input on a special project going on in the office.  Nothing major like mergers, but something simple like:

         Member of the Potluck Committee.

Input on the color scheme for the new carpet, walls, or cubicles. 

Input on who to put where during the next round of “Musical Cubicles.”

You get the idea.  Something simple, different and gives her something “new” to focus on for a while, which can be refreshing. 

  • Exercise Group – Start an exercise group that walks up and down the stairs for morning and/or afternoon break.  If there are no stairs then walk around either the inside or outside of the building. 
  • Lunch Time Book Club – Again something different for the widow to focus on.  Keep the reading material on the lighter side.

I Know, I Know

I know this is a lot to ask of employers and I hear lots of grumbling as I write this post.  Just remember these suggestions are based on my experience.  You can implement these or come up with different ideas. 

Your Choices

You have two choices:

    • Work together in developing a plan so she can perform at the level you need.
    • Leave her flopping around on the dock like a fish out of water.  Maybe she is able to perform at the level needed without any help and maybe not.

 Which would you prefer if your life changed in the time it takes to blink?

  Coming tomorrow – Drama Queens

Career, Uncategorized

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 his and his roommate. He was looking forward to getting through rehab and coming home so he could walk Rommie.

The next morning he was gone.

What My 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 interview or job offers is because I will be dead by the second anniversary.”

Grief messes with your mind.

Year One

The First Year:

  • I wandered aimlessly without desire or motivation. I sat on the couch or laid in bed on weekends to “store up” 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 no that I was single again?
  • The only reason I got out of bed each morning was to let Rommie (golden retriever daughter) outside as I did not want to lie in bed smelling pee and poo.
  • Ther 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 lmy grief journey and was completely whole again.

Year Two

The Second Year:

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

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to inspire widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s currently using those skills as a virtual logistics contact center representative for a Fortune 100 company. She’s also managed call center teams, co-facilitated a grief support group, and helped small businesses with various writing assignments. Michele is a bookworm, and a lover of history, music, chocolate, red roses, and golden retrievers. She is also the amateur photographer behind the blog