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i like whiskey
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The husband of the nanny we've had for 1.5 years passed away. He had cancer and from diagnosis time to death was maybe 3 months total. She has not been to work for us in the last month as she dealt with his diagnosis, chemo and ultimate death and funeral.

We didn't want to burden her dealing without our phone calls on top of everything else. So during the time she's been gone we've talked to her once or twice a week and told her to take as much time as she needed. She came back to work yesterday and is obviously still rattled. She's lost weight and looks like she could break down crying at any minute.

Last night I told her that I was happy she was back and that I was sorry, but I did not know what to say but we'd been praying for her the whole time. As I expected, she said there's "really nothing you can say and thank you". I pretty much left it at that. I invited her to stay for dinner but she declined.

Today she mentioned to my wife that she received two very nice cards from people she had only met once or twice, and that meant a lot to her. My wife and I did not do anything specific for her, like flowers or a card or donation to charity in his name. Nothing like that.

When we talked during the ordeal we always said we were praying for her and have been as flexibile as she wanted. I guess my view is that what we said over the phone and in person was more personal than a card. And she knows we and the kids love her. We've given her extra time when she needs it and have done other things for her.

My question is how do I handle this? Did we drop the ball by not doing something? Is it too late to do something now? Or do we press ahead with just being a good "employer" and keep supporting her emotionally however we can?
 

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Proud luddite
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Sounds like you've handled it well and that she appreciates your concern. The only thing I would suggest is that you ask her if there is anything that you can do. Maybe she needs help getting her own house in order, dealing with her husband's clothing and possessions, dealing with legal/financial matters. Maybe she does need help but doesn't want to ask for it.
 

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Registered
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Never too late to write a note. If it were me, I'd add a little something to her paycheck, just to help out...

Sad time - your compassion and flexibility will always be appreciated.
 

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Jerkhard Sirdribbledick
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What's done is done. You guys did fine ... a month off for a nanny is a big deal because your needs still persist.
 

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2 busy workin' 2 hang out
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brandtw said:
Never too late to write a note. If it were me, I'd add a little something to her paycheck, just to help out...

Sad time - your compassion and flexibility will always be appreciated.
Yes, it's never too late to say something, send a note, whatever. But the earlier the better.

Life really sucks sometimes, we're probably going to lose a patient tonight.:(
 

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Roll Out Jeremy
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From either perspective

hers or yours. Somebody will always say or do the wrong thing (perception). Whats important is moving forward. Show her security in your employment, confidence in her work. She will ultimatley decide for herself. You shouldn't take on her reactions, just support her. You did the right thing....
 

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eminence grease
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I think you dropped the ball a bit.

If someone told me that they'd been praying for me, it would mean nothing at all. It may be the case with her and so you've achieved nothing here except feeling that you did the right thing.

You did do all the right things in terms of being flexible and supportive.

I would have sent her flowers, regularly, because tiny gestures like that mean so much to people when they're going through bad things. And people expect such things from those they closest.

But it's done now, all you can do is continue to be a supportive person.
 

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Roll Out Jeremy
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I agree

The whole "praying for you thing" is kind of a cop out....
 

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half-fast
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Fordy said:
The whole "praying for you thing" is kind of a cop out....
That seems harsh not knowing how Nanny feels about such gestures.

About cards: my mom got some comfort out of having a pile of notes from people after my pop died. I think is good to know that there are people out there for you, thinking about you, etc., and a pile of cards is something you can look at more than once.

My wife and her family felt similarly after her mom died.


Only you know what's right for your situation, but I don't think it'd be too late to send something.
 

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Captain Obvious
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you probably should have sent something. it's great that you have been flexible with her as you guys have needs and she isn't there. you should continue to be supportive and ask if she needs help with anything. she may not think she does right now only to find out she does later. i think it's important to make sure she knows you guys are there if she needs you.
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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Don't be too hard on yourself. Not pushing her to come back, not replacing her while she was gone, and treating her with kindness and understanding now and in the months to come is worth a ton.
 

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waterproof*
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A card and flowers from the employer are traditional. Maybe surprise her with a bit catered take-home meal next time you see her?
 

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Windrider (Stubborn)
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Having gone thru a recent significant event, any and all sincere expressions of support were very appreciated. I think most people judge these things in the context of the people that make the gesture.......there were people that did nothing more than called or e mailed that meant more to us than flowers, because we knew for that person, their gesture was well outside their comfort zone. OTOH, we knew others where the gesture was more about them.

That being said, only you can speak to your relationship with her, and the appropriateness of the gestures you made or didn't make.........I would suspect that she appreciated your support thru this. So now that her husband has died....what can you do to support her now, when she may need it as much or more?

IMO

Len
 

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Registered
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You feel uncertain about the card. Give her a card and have the detail taken out of question.

Cut flowers would be a nice gesture. If she is a plant person an indoor or outdoor plant might be good. Expense is not important.

You would then not have any reason for second thoughts on the matter.

You have been very supportive.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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innergel said:
My question is how do I handle this? Did we drop the ball by not doing something? Is it too late to do something now? Or do we press ahead with just being a good "employer" and keep supporting her emotionally however we can?

Yes, you dropped the ball. You did not treat her like family, but you did not treat her like most bosses would treat an employee either. That would have meant a card and flowers at the funeral. She probably said what she did about those two cards because it mattered to her. To me, not knowing the total sum of your relationship with her, I think the ball you dropped is really a wall that won't be coming down any time soon. So be ready for that, it might come out later on.

As to how to handle it, you do what you've been doing. Cards of flowers now will just show that you feel you did not do enough. But you do. So keep doing that. If you want to do something else to lighten her load, do that. Take home dinner, I would avoid that since she has probably been eating at home quite a bit. Maybe a gift card for a dinner, and tell her to take out a friend for dinner who has been really helpful to her in this difficult time? That would be thoughtful, and a clear message that you know you are not the ones doing the heavy lifting on support.

Finally, you say she knows you love her. How? Serious question there. Because while I can apply a lot of words to your actions in this situation that are positive (flexible, considerate, etc), I don't think your actions show love as I understand it. Who would fail to show up at a funeral of a spouse of someone they love? Or fail to send a card and flowers if they couldn't be there?

Now maybe you do love her, deeply and spiritually. Maybe you just felt too awkward to do something more in the situation. Maybe you don't have a background where a nanny or other "servant" class person works in your house and so are not familiar with the etiquette. IF that's the case, and if you really love this person, then you should sit down with her AFTER she comes to better grips with what happened and have a talk. An honest talk. The kind of talk you have with someone you love after you screw up and need to tell them that, not a boss-employee talk.

Try to keep in mind that death and funerals are awkward at best, and lots of people do the "wrong" thing... or not the exactly "right" thing. That is why rituals are so useful, follow the rituals, chances are less to go wrong. But the most important thing we can do in a situation is to try to make things easier for the people most affected. You have done that. Did you do the perfect thing? No. But you have done good things, and that's OK.
 

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Banned
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Is she hot? Grief-stricken widow sex opportunity!

I don't think you dropped the ball. As her employer there's a personal and professional relationship that is balanced. You stated your support to her throughout the treatment of her husband. It doesn't sound as though your "we prayed for you/him" comment was misplaced (I'm assuming).

As said above, show her her job is secure, continue to be supportive, it can't hurt to get a card, ask if she's looked into grief counseling. I guess just keep being yourself.
 

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i like whiskey
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
These are all good responses. Thanks for the input. As usual, the Lounge always has some diverse and thoughtful insight.

To clarify a few of the questions/statements,

1. She knows we love her because we tell her all the time. I make it a point to tell her how much she is appreciated and what a blessing she is to us and the kids.
2. Praying for someone is not a shallow gesture. It could easily be considered a very personal and touching gesture. Maybe the most personal gesture. I can see how it could be seen differently if someone is not of a Christian bent.
3. There was no funeral. She had him cremated and specifically said there was no ceremony of any kind. We would have been there.
4. I think we did drop the ball a little bit. I think we probably should have done something else. I feel like it would be a little odd to send something now. I will sit down with her in the future and talk to her more. Tell her we are sorry.
5. And lastly, I realize that I'm not really a "giving" person. And I'm generally just barely empathetic. That's my personal issue that I struggle with. So this is a difficult situation for me to deal with.
 

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RoadBikeReview's Member
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innergel said:
5. And lastly, I realize that I'm not really a "giving" person. And I'm generally just barely empathetic. That's my personal issue that I struggle with. So this is a difficult situation for me to deal with.
Has she worked for you for a long time? Does she know that you're not an empathetic, giving person normally? Then, as Len said, you giving something, no matter how small, will really mean a lot to her.

As an example of this, my father's parents have low standards, and they are always unbelievably impressed with anything I do. My mother's parents have extremely high standards, and her dad really has a hard time opening up to people and talking to them. A few weeks ago, he stopped by at the end of a bike ride for some water, talked to me for about a half hour, and said that he was proud of me for dealing with some issues I had last semester. Although he only said "I'm proud of you", it meant everything to me - far more than it would have meant from someone else.

The normal rituals... maybe you're a bit late for. But you can still be there for her and you can still help her even now. Keep on being flexible, and whenever you see an opportunity to do something for her, no matter how small, do it.
 

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I don't think you dropped the ball at all. How many of the critics here employ a nanny? You gave her time off to deal with it (I assume paid time off). How many employers would have done that? I'm sure she'd appreciate a card, but having time off and not having to worry about the money is probably the best thing anyone did for her.

I try not to get involved in my nanny's personal life. She's not part of my family and I'm not part of her's. She does a good job taking care of the kids. They like her and I pay her pretty well. Its expensive, but good daycare isn't worth skimping on -- its a temporary expense.
 

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Failboat Captian
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I have no clue. I think you did okay. I wouldn't know wha else to do. I leave that stuff up to my wife.

//How about a gift certificate to Chip-n-Dales?
 
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