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


“Deep Impact”

(Author’s note: This week’s articles are designed to provide an employer with information about helping an employee experiencing sudden widowhood at an age society considers “young.”

Today’s article is an attempt to get you to understand sudden widowhood. I use the word attempt because however, I describe it the description is not accurate enough.)

What Happened

The best way I know to describe what happened to your employee is:

the scene in Deep Impact where Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni) and her father Jason Lerner (Maximillan Schell) are standing on the beach waiting for the first tsunami wave to engulf them after the comet hits earth.

An emotional tsunami has engulfed your employee.

The Pain

The best description of the pain she is feeling is:

Her heart was ripped out ad put into a mortar and is being ground 24/7 with a pestle. No matter how much grinding is done, her heart is like a jawbreaker and never gets any smaller.

Michele Kearns

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings (Morris Albert)

Other feelings she might be dealing with are loneliness, abandonment, loss of identity, and lack of self-esteem. You name the emotion and if she is not feeling it now, there is a good chance she will feel it later.

For example – I did not hit the “anger” stage until six months after Joe died. It was just one of those days where every little thing went wrong. I slammed my car door every chance I got while saying more than a few unpleasant things to Joe. Luckily, my 2004 Saturn Ion survived the abuse.

Healthy Choice

Letting her deal with grief is not only healthy but a positive and productive step in the recovery process.

If she stuffs her negative feelings inside she is hooking herself to an I.V. bottle of poison, attaching it to a rack and rolling it around for the rest of her life.

In case you did not realize it –

Poison Kills

Maybe suddenly or maybe over months of years but the poison those negative emotions cause will slowly eat away at her mental and physical wellbeing.

By the way, this is true for anyone who stuffs their grief inside, not just us widows.

Life Is A Highway (Tom Cochrane)

Sudden widowhood is a nightmarish journey some of us must take while traveling life’s highway. It is not fun but it is a learning and growing experience. Once she gets through this journey she will be a better employee.

Don’t you want an employee who is able to endure being engulfed by an emotional tsunami, slowly ascend through the wave and break through the crest?

Imagine what she will do for your company – the possibilities are endless.

Coming tomorrow: The answer to “How Long?”

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.


Mortar and Pestal Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Cell Photo by Christopher Windus on Unsplash

Wave Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash