2020 was a hard year for everyone, but for me, it was the worst year of my life, as I lost my wonderful dad.
I’m lucky though, as I work for a company that has allowed me to grieve and to ease back into my role in a timeframe that has worked for me and with support every step along the way.
The support started well before global pandemics and lockdowns, right back to early 2019 when my dad was first diagnosed with terminal cancer. I know a lot of companies say they ‘support their staff’ and ‘family comes first’, but when reality hits, is this actually the case when there are still deadlines to meet and team members and clients to manage? For me, I can honestly say yes. RBH went above and beyond supporting me. Knowing that I could fully be there for both my dad and mum, attending all consultant’s appointments, tests and treatments without any pressures from work, was so unbelievably important and allowed me to step up for my family when they needed me to. It really does make you realise how important where you work is. It’s not all about titles and salaries (although the right employer would also get that right), it’s more important that you work for and with people that really do care and back that up in whatever way is required for each individual whether that be due to a bereavement, health issues or just support and training in a role.
I read so much about people who lose a close family member and are expected to ‘get over it’ and ‘carry on as normal’ within a few weeks; from experiencing this myself, I just don’t know how that is physically and mentally possible! It has taken me well over a year to get to some degree of normality, through counselling and the support of family, friends and colleagues, and really feel for people who are not given the time and support they need. Studies have shown that for most people, the worst symptoms of grief – depression, sleeplessness, loss of appetite – peak at six months, so it’s important companies understand this and provide the support as and when required for that individual, as of course, it’s different for everyone.
I think to a certain degree, we have all learnt something over the past year; but for me, the most valuable lesson is to make sure you surround yourself with people who actually care and have your best interests at heart, whether that is in a social or work capacity. I’m lucky to have both at RBH, not only do I work for an amazing company, I also get to spend every day with genuinely the most brilliant, talented, caring individuals who I can call both my colleagues and most importantly my friends!
So, my advice would be, if you find yourself in a position where you have to make a decision about putting family or work first, you’re probably not working for the right people or in the right company, as that should never be a decision you should have to make. There are companies out there that have your best interests at heart, so go find them and give back to them as much as they give to you and most importantly, be kind to yourself.