A Letter to the Editor

A griev­ing fath­er’s plea: give em­ploy­ees longer be­reave­ment leave

To the ed­it­or:

I am a griev­ing fath­er. I lost my son, Timothy, in 2011, and have spent the past two try­ing to sur­vive this loss.  As much as I try, I can­not make sense of my son’s death.

You see, some people think that be­reaved par­ents should pick them­selves up, dust them­selves off and get things back to “nor­mal.” 

Those of us un­for­tu­nate enough to have to live this real­ity know it isn’t quite that simple.The death of a child goes bey­ond most people’s com­pre­hen­sion, ex­cept for the be­reaved par­ents that have to walk this path.  

We don’t have the lux­ury of re­mov­ing that thought from our minds. Every day, we live it.

As part of my mis­sion to help oth­er be­reaved par­ents that will fol­low in my foot­steps, I have joined fel­low griev­ing dads, Kelly Far­ley and Barry Kluger, to as­sist them with bring­ing aware­ness to the Far­ley-Kluger Ini­ti­at­ive (www.far­leykluger.com).  

More than 61,000 pe­ti­tions have already been sent to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and many of these pe­ti­tions have signed by res­id­ents of Pennsylvania.

Cur­rently, there are two fed­er­al bills (The Par­ent­al Be­reave­ment Act of 2013) sit­ting in the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives (HR515) and the Sen­ate (S226) that pro­pose ex­pand­ing the Fam­ily Med­ic­al Leave Act of 1993 to in­clude the death of a child as a covered con­di­tion. 

Right now, you re­ceive up to 12 weeks un­paid leave if you have a child, ad­opt a child, care for a sick fam­ily mem­ber, are ill, or are caring for an in­jured ser­vice mem­ber. If your child dies, most com­pan­ies grant 3-5 days be­reave­ment leave.

Sadly, there is no polit­ic­al sup­port from Pennsylvania rep­res­ent­at­ives or sen­at­ors in Wash­ing­ton on this is­sue. This is­sue shouldn’t be caught up in Wash­ing­ton polit­ics.  

We want the busi­nesses that rely on those who have lost a child to re­cog­nize that the best as­sets of a com­pany walk out the door at the end of the work­day. 

Em­ploy­ees have giv­en their em­ploy­ers loy­alty, ded­ic­a­tion and pro­ductiv­ity, but in the eyes of some com­pan­ies, the death of a child makes them ‘ex­pend­able,’ if they are un­able to re­turn to work the day after bury­ing their child.

I can­not be­gin to ima­gine why any­one would not want to ex­tend a com­pas­sion­ate hand to those who have lost a child.  

Have we really be­come a coun­try that is fo­cused more on the bot­tom line than help­ing our neigh­bors through dif­fi­cult times?


Mar­tin Con­nors

Port Rich­mond

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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