January 2011 Moms

My boss died.

I just got a call from one of my other superiors letting me know that our general manager lost his battle with cancer this morning. 

While I am saddened by this, because he was a very kind man who I'm grateful to for giving me a chance in this industry, I am mostly looking for advice.

What is proper behavior during this time? I've never experienced death in a professional environment before, so I'm afraid I may handle the situation wrong. His wife also works at the station, and I interact with her much more than I interacted with him.

I'm not even sure what to ask, to be honest, but have any of your dealt with a situation like this before? I really just need to know what to expect and how to behave.  

Thanks in advance.  

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Re: My boss died.

  • I'm so sorry to hear that.  My coworker (and I'm on a tiny team of three - now 2) passed away last year after a struggle with cancer.

    I don't think there is necessarily a "right" thing to do/say to his wife other than saying you're sorry for her loss, and that you're there for her if she needs anything.

    Follow the lead of others, but in general, there really isn't any "special behavior" that goes along with a situation like this.

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  • I have no real advice, but I'm so sorry.

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  • My grandfather used to be a big guy in the company I work for today and when he passed I'm pretty sure half of the company showed up to his viewing.  I've also had 1 coworker pass away in the past and have had coworkers family members pass away - so here's my view on the situation.  If you want to send something to the family wait until the death announcement is published - a lot of times families do not want flowers or gifts and would rather have a donation made to a foundation.  If this is the case you could send a sympathy card with a note stating that you made a donation to their chosen foundation.  Clearly you seem to have respect for this man and you have a relationship with his wife so I would go to the viewing to pay your respects to him and his family unless they specifically state in the death announcement that they want the viewing and funeral kept private.  I would only go to the funeral if you had a close relationship to this man.  I always feel like funerals are very intimate and that viewings are the best way to pay respect to the deceased or to the family. 

    Again for my grandfather - I reallly think half of the company was at his viewing.  Most of the people who showed up worked with him and some point in their career but there were also people who showed up who never met him, but had a very close work relationship with me or my uncles, so they came to pay their respects and show us their support.  People from work did go to the funeral as well, but these people were people from who at some point had a very close relationship with my grandfather. 

    Hope this helps.

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  • image Tracy6450:

    My grandfather used to be a big guy in the company I work for today and when he passed I'm pretty sure half of the company showed up to his viewing.  I've also had 1 coworker pass away in the past and have had coworkers family members pass away - so here's my view on the situation.  If you want to send something to the family wait until the death announcement is published - a lot of times families do not want flowers or gifts and would rather have a donation made to a foundation.  If this is the case you could send a sympathy card with a note stating that you made a donation to their chosen foundation.  Clearly you seem to have respect for this man and you have a relationship with his wife so I would go to the viewing to pay your respects to him and his family unless they specifically state in the death announcement that they want the viewing and funeral kept private.  I would only go to the funeral if you had a close relationship to this man.  I always feel like funerals are very intimate and that viewings are the best way to pay respect to the deceased or to the family. 

    Again for my grandfather - I reallly think half of the company was at his viewing.  Most of the people who showed up worked with him and some point in their career but there were also people who showed up who never met him, but had a very close work relationship with me or my uncles, so they came to pay their respects and show us their support.  People from work did go to the funeral as well, but these people were people from who at some point had a very close relationship with my grandfather. 

    Hope this helps.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It was incredibly helpful.

    Since we work for a broadcasting company, he was a pretty public figure, so there is an article about his death online already and there was a lovely tribute to him on our news talk radio station this morning. (Which I missed, as I only found out about his death about an hour ago, but am listening to online as I type this.)

    The article mentions sending donations to the ministry he ran, so I'm going to talk to my husband (and parents, who have always been fans of the company I work for and the stations we run... long before I was even born) about making a donation.

    You're right... I think that would be the best thing I can do.

    Thank you all for your advice. I appreciate it more than you know.  

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  • I would definitely attend the viewing/wake & funeral if you can possibly do so, if for no other reason to support his wife.  If you are close-ish to his wife, you might also consider taking her dinner or a GC to a local restaurant since she certainly won't feel up to cooking.  Finally, I would either make a donation to a cancer-related charity in his name, or send a plant/flower arrangement, depending on which you think his wife would appreciate more (or contribute to a department gesture, if someone organizes one). 
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  • I am so sorry to hear.

     

    Ditto the others who suggested going to the wake and/or funeral.  Also, if you an his wife have a close working relationship, I'd offer to come over and cook or clean and just help do the lil, mundane tasks around the house.  I dont think you necessarily have to do anything though....just letting them know that you are there should they need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or a helping hand, that that is very much appreciated.


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  • I am so sorry for your loss.  I agree with pp that attending the wake is appropriate, but the funeral may be reserved for close friends/family, so double check beforehand.  A donation made to the charity of their choice and a card offering your condolences is a nice gesture as well. 
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