Anyone who has ever experienced the death of a pet -whether it is a cat, a dog or any other beloved companion animal knows how devastating that loss can be. In fact, for someone who is grieving the loss of a pet to resume any semblance of ordinary daily life activities can be extremely difficult. And just the thought of having to go back to work and try to function normally and to be able to perform even the most routine tasks, can be overwhelming.
So what can someone who is suffering the death of a deeply loved pet do to be able to excuse themselves from their job to so they can take time off and go through the grieving process without unnecessary distractions?
Many years ago I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my cherished horse. She was 7 months pregnant. My world came to an end and I entered into a period of darkness that was so deep and unceasing and I was hardly able to function at all. She was my closest friend, my confident, a horse with whom I was so closely bonded that she could feel my emotions.
When I was down, she would put her head around my neck and rest it there to comfort me. We were counting the days until she gave birth and we had named her foal. We were so excited about her pregnancy and we were eager to meet her baby. But of course that was not meant to be. This was a tragic double loss; losing both my beautiful mare and her unborn foal. Since her death was so unexpected I had no time to prepare for it and I went through a long period of shock and disbelief; this could not have happened. But it did.
Since I was totally not in an emotional state to go back to work, I had to take some time off. It took me several days to get into the car and go back to my office. My supervisor expressed her condolences and then asked me how I wanted to account for my time off – sick time, vacation or personal leave.
I was enraged by her questions. I wasn’t sick and this was certainly not a vacation. The only way in which I would not have to lose three day’s pay was to charge the time off to personal leave. But what angered me the most was that if this had been my husband, mother or father who had died, I would have received 3 days paid bereavement time, with no questions asked.
However, due to the growing recognition that companion animals are considered “family members”, fortunately there are a few companies that offer time off for pet bereavement. Unfortunately, these companies are in the minority.
The Kimpton Hotel chain and restaurants allows their managers to give employees up to three days bereavement time from work, and the pet insurance company Trupanion, grants employees one paid bereavement day.
According to a recent article posted on CBS Philly by Jim Donovan, Dani Kahn who works for Trupanion said,
“We allow people to actually do that grieving process and just, just be able to heal. I think you need closure when you lose a pet and it’s important to have the time to do that.”
In my opinion companies should include the death of a pet in their bereavement policy. An employee who is grieving over the loss of their pet will not be able to fully concentrate on working and is likely to be highly distracted and make mistakes. Also
their grief can be distracting and upsetting to other employees who aren’t able to cope with the bereft employee’s feelings.
Should companies grant bereavement time to employees who have lost their pet? What do you think? Share your opinion in a comment.
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