Time Eases the Sorrow

Oct 30 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Recently, our neighbour lost his wife in a tragic accident. Besides being widowed, the sudden loss of his better half also imposed the responsibility of raising their two-year-old daughter. Seeing the little girl not letting him leave her site touched my heart. She lost her mother at a very young age, and it seems like she is afraid of losing her father too.

The family, friends and colleagues came to his house to pay their respect and comforted him to the best of their abilities. But he had to return to work a few days after the funeral. I was surprised to learn that only a few days are given to mourn your loved ones. It is not fair.

Bereavement requires time. Recovering from the pain of losing a loved one deserves at least a month. This might not be enough to get over the loss of a loved one, but to accept the fact that they are gone, a month will suffice.

Grief is more than a five-letter word. It breaks and changes people.

The feeling of emptiness, similar to having a hole in the heart, is not entirely farfetched. In forming a deeper bond with a loved one, we tend to associate our identity with them; instead of 'I', it becomes 'We'. Losing that dear, beloved person feels like they took some form of the associated identity with them. This is particularly apparent between spouses and children.

Some might argue that the prolonged break could worsen the emotional pain and that returning to work after a few days of bereavement is a good distraction from reality. This is not the case for everyone. People have different ways of dealing with grief. Some weep and express their sadness; others put on a brave face, trying to hide their suffering with a "life goes on" attitude. But they do not believe their own words.

Perhaps this might work for people who do not need to adjust to their unfamiliar duty. A prolonged mourning time could open the door to self-destructive habits. But, for people such as my neighbour, the time could be advantageous to strengthen their profound responsibility.

The little girl needs to bond with her father, slowly realising the idea that her mother is not coming back. Bonding time is essential for children at that age. Raising a child without having anyone to help is a challenge on its own; returning to work after a few mourning days as if nothing happened makes it even worse.

Understandably, employees have duties and responsibilities to carry out, but does it have to come at the expense of their well-being?

They cannot be fully functional if they return to their desks. Other coworkers can fill the void until they are emotionally ready and mentally stable. There will come a time when the dues are paid, as these incidents happen to us all. This should apply to immediate family members, or people may find loopholes to turn it into a long overdue vacation.

Bereavement leave, also known as compassionate leave, lasts from one to five days in some countries and is often supported with payment. Lawyers specialising in labour issues told me that there is no specific law that gives time off for mourners. The mourning period should be extended to allow employees to make adjustments.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 30,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1174]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

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