A large family is a blessing. Having lots of doting aunts, nurturing uncles, and cousins to grow up with enrich a life immeasurably… and give one a great opportunity for lots of bereavement leave. There is one employee at my day job who misses time several times a year, every year, to attend services for a family member who has passed away. Our policy is fairly liberal. For instance, we identify an aunt or uncle as the sibling of a parent or step-parent in addition to those siblings’ spouses.
We see a lot of fraud when it comes to bereavement leave (Read “What are they thinking?”), and at one point about a year ago, we asked her to explain to us why she had claimed so much bereavement leave. How could this possibly be true? Who can lose a close family member so often and still have some left to attend the services? Just how many aunts and uncles can one person have?
She drew us a family tree that showed that her father had fourteen siblings and her mother twelve. Both of her parents had re-married, adding their new spouses’ siblings into the mix. And each of her many aunts and uncles had married, resulting in a doubling of that population.
All-in-all, there are over fifty “aunts” and “uncles” for whom she is eligible for bereavement leave. And they are dropping like flies.
To date, she has lost eight aunts and eleven uncles, by my count. Last year, she was at a service for one uncle when another one passed away. Last month her aunt passed away and she had three days off. Yesterday she called us to report that her aunt had passed away, and she’ll be out for the next three days. After hearing that, I had an epiphany. I know what she should do with the rest of her life: She should be a funeral director! Who could possibly be better than her at understanding the family’s needs after a loss? She must be very well-versed in all of the final arrangements. I’ll bet she knows all of the ins-and-outs of writing an obituary. And she certainly understands how to produce documentation for employers or airline bereavement fares. And as an extra added bonus, she wouldn’t have to miss work when someone passes away.
Here’s a little graveyard humor.