Monday, September 26, 2005

The purpose of bereavement leave

As soon as my mother-in-law became really sick and took a turn for the worse, I immediately went to our company's website and looked up our policy on bereavement leave. It stated that I can take up to five days of paid leave with management's approval. I was amazed. I can't believe they give you up to a week off with no questions asked when you have a death in the immediate family, and a mother-in-law qualifies as immediate family. I emailed my supe, and he wrote back and said that five days was fine if I needed it. Wow.

P on the other hand, checked with his boss, and it turns out that he only gets three paid days, so he decided to take all three, and I did the same. I told my boss that I would be back on Thursday, but would come back Wednesday or Tuesday if I could.

All the while, I'm thinking, why would you need to take off that much time from work? I'm very much a person that believes in getting back into the routine when something like this happens, and I don't like to wallow.

However, NOW I realize WHY they give you that much time. I've never felt so physically and emotionally exhausted in my life, and I'm pretty sure that P feels the same way.

We got the call at 2:30 am Friday morning that my mother-in-law had passed. P rushed right over there, and since he wouldn't let me come with him, I laid in bed awake until about 4:30 am crying. He called to give me an update around 6:30 am (another hour lying in bed awake crying) and then again at 9:15 am (at which point I gave up on sleep). He, on the other hand, slept for maybe an hour before breakfast that morning after the funeral home came and picked her up. Keep in mind please that we did not go to bed Thursday night until about 1 am.

Friday, I spent the day working and getting things in order with work so I could take a few days off. He spent the day with his family making funeral arrangements. He didn't get home until about 5:30 pm. That's a LONG time with little sleep. Needless to say, he fell right asleep before I could even order a pizza, and we both fell asleep pretty early after dinner.

Saturday was the first wake from 1-4. We were there for every minute of it, and then went to his parents' house for dinner after that to eat and visit, and then over to his sister's house that night to visit some more. I didn't come home until 11 pm; P decided to hang out at his sister's house with his brother and brother-in-law and cousin and "visit" some more..."visit" meaning hang out, play Texas Hold 'Em and drown their sorrows in a case of beer. I can't really say I blame them...had I been able to drink, I would have been tossing 'em back too.

Sunday I woke up early, went out to the store, and proceeded to cook a HUGE feast of food to take to my in-laws' house to have to eat after the second viewing and first service. I made a 10 lb bag of mashed potatoes, yeast rolls, a cheesecake with strawberry sauce, a pecan pie, an apple pie, brownies, gravy, and boiled three dozen eggs. I didn't get to devil the eggs like I had planned, but they were at least cooked. Talk about getting acquainted with your kitchen! I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the afternoon. P had gone to the second viewing (I stayed home to cook) so I was doing this all by myself. Anyway, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law came over to our house about an hour before the service, and helped me load the car, which we then drove to my in-laws' house, unloaded, and then went to the service, which was about two hours long. After that, it was back to their house to eat the food I had made and the brisquet that the parents of one of my other brothers-in-law made. My back and legs were really cursing me for putting them through the afternoon of agony in the kitchen (even though I wore my running shoes) but seeing the look on my father-in-law's face when he realized all the food I made and hearing him say, "Erica, THANK YOU" made it all worth it.

We didn't get home from there until about 1 am. And I think the carpet at the church had fleas, because both of my feet from the ankle line down were completely itchy all night and felt like they were on fire.

Today was the big day...the funeral. We woke up exhausted and in pretty low spirits. Something about the finality of the burial just really got us...and neither one of us was ready to say goodbye.

But we did. My mother-in-law is finally at peace and with the God that she loved so much, and I know that she'll be looking down on us and on McKenna and our other children. The service was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking and I know that she loved it. After the service and interment, we went back (again) to eat at my inlaws' house, and that's when the weekend really caught up with me. I think all of the factors combined really did a number on me...the bad salty carby food, lack of sleep, not enough water to drink, stress, the flea bites, loads of time on my feet, 100 degree heat while wearing all black clothing, etcetera. My fingers started to swell up, my feet, ankles and toes did the same, I got the worst case of gas and indigestion you can possibly imagine, my throat started to hurt, and my head is throbbing.

So, back to my original question...what is the purpose of bereavement leave? To give you time to recover from the MASSIVE family event! I am in NO way prepared to go back to work tomorrow. I'm exhausted! P feels the same way! We both are just going to take it easy the next two days and kind of get things in order in our heads and in our bodies, and THEN return to work.

Anyway, that's the status of our weekend. I thank everyone for the prayers and thoughts that you sent out to P and I. E is gone, and we will miss her terribly. Things will never be the same without her. But she is no longer in any pain, and she is in Heaven, a much better place. That thought will give us comfort for years to come.

And...before I's a new belly picture at 32 weeks.

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Just for comparison, here's my 25 week picture:

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Blogger Christine said...

(((Erica))) Definitely take some time to get some rest. Wow, it's hard to believe McKenna is only 8 weeks away from making her appearance!

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Look at you! Not even any stretch marks!

I know exactly what you have been going through. My mom passed away on Labor Day just three weeks ago. All of the activities were at my house and we cooked for the masses! It was good because it took my mind off things temporarily, but it was bad because it was so exhausting! Just get all the rest you can. You deserve it.

3:39 PM  

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