A co-worker's family member passed away and a lot of my department is going to the funeral to support her. But I don't want to go. Am I cold?
This employee began working at her company eight months ago and has worked with this person, who is actually her department manager, quite often. She doesn’t do well at funerals, has never met the family member and has SO MUCH STUFF to do at work... plus it's in the middle of a work day. It is a pretty big deal and she is getting pressure to attend.
What should she do?
Initially I suggested she just send a card, but when I mentioned my response to my husband he said I was wrong.
My husband, who is better at etiquette and office politics than I, says she needs to attend. He thinks working with someone for eight months is a sufficient amount of time to establish a relationship. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t know the family member, the purpose of a funeral service is to show support for the living. It appears as though her department plans to attend the funeral as a group to show support for their manager. It would be a good move on the part of this employee to attend as member of her team.
She doesn’t need to stay for the actual service:
From the employee's tweets I think she is considering attending the actual funeral service. She needs to only attend the visitation to express her condolences to her manager and if appropriate her manager’s immediate family. A fifteen minute visit would be sufficient. It is usually customary to view the deceased and if appropriate spend a few moments in silent prayer, but this isn’t mandatory. She should also make sure she signs the guest book. The service itself is usually an intimate ceremony attended by immediate family and close friends.
Since the service occurs during the work day she may need to take time off without pay to attend. If so, she could stay late or work through her lunch to make up time and catch up with her work.
A few of my husband’s co-workers attended both of his parent's funeral visitations. They didn't stay for more than fifteen minutes. My husband was cognizant of and appreciated those who made an effort to attend.
Last month my manager’s mother passed away. Her funeral service was six hours away. All three of my company’s owners traveled the six hours to attend her visitation. They did not stay for the funeral service which was held the next day. If the visitation had been local, I am sure every person in my department would have attended and that our company would have allowed us to attend without docking our pay.
Instead, individually we sent sympathy cards to our manager’s home and a token memorial in our manager’s mother’s name to the private school where she had taught for many years.
When I was the tweeter's age (I think she is in her early twenties) I probably wouldn’t have wanted to attend either, but now that I am older I realize doing the appropriate thing is more important than our own wishes and conveniences.
What are your thoughts?