Fond Farewell: Davy Jones (1945 - 2012)

Monkees Singer Davy Jones has died.
Davy Jones and the Monkees band performed from 1966 – 1971. Jones was the lead singer and teen idol who later stared in The Monkees own show and other TV hits such as The Brady Bunch
and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on the same airing as the Beatles.

Davy Jones and the Monkees were best known for songs such as “Im a Believer” “Day Dream” and Pleasant Valley Sunday” His last live performance was held on 2/19/2012 in Oklahoma.
He is survived by his wife and four daughters. Davy Jones born inManchester, U.K., on Dec, 30, 1945, dies of a heart attack at 66.

Bereavement Leave - Not Guaranteed, Not Universal

This article focuses on bereavement leave policies and legal provisions. I chose to focus on this topic, after learning from a friend and former co-worker, that the Clark Regional Wastewater District in Vancouver, WA, recently closed down their office for the memorial service of one of their employees, Chris Hodnefield. His healthy lifestyle and fitness habits were well known and his death came as a shock to all.

Bereavement Leave – Not Guaranteed, Not Universal

Firstly, in researching bereavement leave, employers are not required to pay for this type of leave by the federal government and most states. I decided to focus my research on the west coast states of Washington, Oregon and California.

Washington State - “An employer is not required to give workers paid…bereavement leave.”

Oregon State – “Bereavement leave is not covered by or required under state or federal family leave laws. Like other benefits, bereavement leave is dependent on the employer´s policy.”

California State – “Neither federal nor state laws currently provide protected leave for bereavement.”

Employer Bereavement Policies
Since the laws do not require bereavement leave, employers are left to decide whether to offer bereavement leave to their employees or not. Although the most common time period of leave employers offer is 3 days, the policies vary from 1 to 5 days. Some employers determine the leave for bereavement based on the relationship of the individual to the decedent.

A Look at 6 Oregon Employers Bereavement Leave Policies

Private Educational Institution
Lewis & Clark College
• 5 Days for the death of a Spouse, Same Sex Domestic Partner (SSDP), Child, Stepchild, Parent, or Sibling.
• 4 Days for the death of Stepparent of self/spouse/SSDP, Grandchild of self/spouse/SSDP, Grandparent of self/spouse/SSDP, Son-in-law or Daughter-in-law of self/spouse/SSDP, Child of Spouse/SSDP, Stepchild of Spouse/SSDP, Parent of Spouse/SSDP, Sibling of Spouse/SSDP
• 1 Day for the death of “Any relative not specifically mentioned in this policy.”

Global Technology Corporation

• “Intel offers leave programs to eligible employees in the event they are unable to work due to …personal situations.”

Global Multinational Retailer Corporation
• Paid time-off including: …bereavement

Public Institution Fundraising Organization
Oregon Lottery
• 1 Day Paid – “Full-time employees may request up to 24 hours of paid bereavement leave for the death of a family member.”

Public Educational Institution
Oregon State University
• Up to 3 Days - “Classified employees are eligible for a maximum of three (3) days paid bereavement leave per instance arising from a death in the immediate family of the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner.”

Multinational Snack and Beverage Manufacturing Corporation
Pepsi Co.
• No mention of bereavement leave, only a reference to “Family Leave”.

In researching bereavement leave, it was interesting how difficult it was to find out which companies offered bereavement or funeral leave for their employees. Walmart offered superior benefits with paid bereavement leave. Other companies didn’t fare so well (Intel and Pepsi Co.). Also intriguing was the overall random quantity of the leave with employees being offered 1 to 5 days paid depending on the company and the nature of the relationship of the employee to the decedent.

Pet Bereavement Leave
I was surprised to discover bereavement leave extended to include family pets by the SPCA of San Francisco. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Several U.K. and Canadian companies, including the Bank of Scotland, also offer time off…for pet bereavement.” Considering that I have seen co-workers crippled by the loss of a beloved cat or dog, clearly unable to perform their duties I hope this leave becomes more prevalent. Hopefully more workplaces will consider changing their policies in the future.

Bereavement Leave Discussion
Join us on March 8, when we guest host Death with Dignity's TweetChat for a discussion on Bereavement Leave policies and attitudes.

Get Ready - TweetChat Discussion Questions
1) As an end-of-life professional, do you feel supported by your employer’s bereavement policies?
Please share your experiences with Bereavement Leave policies.

2) How many days do you feel employers should give employees off?
Should relationship closeness dictate time off?
How do we keep people from abusing the time off?
How do we institute polices that support grief while avoiding abuses of time off?

3) What are the cultural and sociological attitudes towards contemporary bereavement leave? What do you foresee as the future for bereavement leave?

Hope to see you on March 8th for the Death with with Dignity TweetChat.

Reference Links
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries -

Oregon State - Technical Assistance for Employers –

California State – Assembly Bill Analysis to Extend Bereavement Leave –

Lewis and Clark Bereavement Leave Policy –

Jobs and Intel – USA – Compensation and Benefits

Walmart Stores Benefits –

Oregon Lottery – Employee Benefits -

Oregon State University – Leave Accrual & Use of Leave Time

Pepsi Co. -

San Francisco SPCA -

Wall Street Journal “Westminster Dog Show: Taking “Peternity” Leaves” -

Improv - Making the Best of Dementia Behaviors

What I have learned in dealing with unusual behaviors is to just roll with them. I see it like improv, where I react to whatever’s happening with the openness to work through it cheerfully. Fortunately the behaviors my grandmother exhibits are rather mild, so it's not difficult to work through. If my grandmother doesn’t remember something, I say “that’s okay” and move on to something else. Positivity is key.

I also use other methods of communication like showing her imagery and photographs, making eye contact, smiling, patting her hand or arm, and including her whenever possible. It has made the entire difference for my own visits lasting a pleasant 4 to 5 hours, while my mother, who doesn’t utilize these methods, having less tolerable, even frustrating, shorter 30-minute visits.

While visiting my grandparents at their care facility, I noticed several behaviors of my grandmother’s that were unsettling, but possible to work though.

1) Slapping the table repeatedly
My grandmother often slaps her hand, palm flat, against the table. She does this several times in succession. My mother finds it annoying and usually tells her to stop doing that, but of course that does not help.

While I was there, visiting with my husband and mother-in-law in tow, my grandmother did this slapping the table behavior mostly during our conversations. It seemed to me at the time, and now confirmed after this week’s readings, that she must have felt left out of the conversation with the 4 of us (my husband, mother-in-law, grandfather and I) carrying on a normal conversation, and my grandmother unable to jump in, must have used this noisy action to break in to the conversation.

My method to comfort her was to make eye contact with her and smile. If I was sitting close enough to her, I would also pat her hand. This seemed to calm her behavior for a bit, but the slapping would return as soon as our conversation lingered too long without her.

2) Interjecting “Bye Bye!” while waving (in the middle of conversations)
Another behavior during others’ conversations is that my grandmother will interject loudly, “Bye bye” while waving us away. I see this also as another way to break into the conversation.

My method for this behavior is to smile, make eye contact, and let her know we were staying a while longer. My grandfather usually shakes his head in frustration, but he doesn’t correct her as much as he used to thankfully.

3) Half sentences

While I was describing the delicious pancakes my grandmother used to make from scratch, she shook her head and waved her hand interjecting “Too much! Too much!” I tried to help her answer this thought more fully by offering, “Too much food?” or “Too much work?” She said, “work”, so we settled on that.

4) Unable to Communicate Food Preferences/Needs

While eating with my grandparents at their care home, my grandmother said she wasn’t hungry, then proceeded to pull French fries, pickles and strawberries off the nearest plates. Since the whole table was family, it wasn’t a problem. Still, I wanted to make sure she got enough to eat, so I cut my sandwich in half and give it to her (she took one bite and didn’t want it). So then I offered her more of the same items she was preferentially picking (finger foods like fries, grapes, strawberries, and pickles) off husband’s plate, then my mother-in-law’s plate, and finally sending my husband to bring her a whole plate of food.

5) Difficult Phone Calls
On her last birthday in November, she relayed to me that was not her birthday that day, but that her birthday was not until next September. I knew better than to correct her; I just said “Oh okay.” However, when she then asked, “Now who are you? Mom or dad?” I have to admit, I was thrown by this question. I wasn’t sure how to respond. As much as I read up on Alzheimer's and dementia, there still so much more to learn. The disease fascinates and amuses as much as it discourages and disappoints. It continues to grant me opportunities to learn something new.

Fond Farewell: Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012)

Legendary singer, Whitney Houston has died. In a notable career that spanned 35 years, Ms. Houston performed as a singer, actress, model and producer. She earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for her over 400 awards including Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Billboard Music Awards and American Music Awards. Ms. Houston was also the first singer to land 7 consecutive Billboard Hot 100 hits.
Interview with Whitney Houston

Most Popular Song - Greatest Love of All

Q & A: Cultural Sensitivity

We received a question recently about whether or not industry professionals should be working from cultural sensitivity charts. The question was: Would it be harmful if we worked directly from the charts?

Yes, it would be harmful to simply work from the charts because every individual is unique and holds a unique set of values that may or may not be reflected in the chart. I believe it best to ask each family, culture or patient that we meet, what his or her specific needs are for caregiving. We should always ask how we could best serve them in the most dignified and respectful way possible.

One major flaw with the charts is that they do not highlight variances and differences that exist within the culture or religion. For instance, I’ve known some Mormons who will not take caffeine in any form, others that will drink caffeinated soda but not coffee or tea, some that will accept only caffeine that is already present in foods (like chocolate), and others that drink coffee. So if the chart were to generally say, ‘caffeine not okay’ for that religion, that would be only slightly accurate and would not fit all of the variations listed above.

Just last year, the cremation of Jewish singer Amy Winehouse fueled many discussions, news articles and blog posts about the changing Jewish values. On CNN, one blog post was titled “Winehouse burial raises Jewish questions about tattoos, cremation”. On E! Online, their news article asked “Did Amy Winehouse's Funeral Violate Jewish Law?” Where Orthodox Jews practice only earth burial within 24 hours in a wooden casket with no metal fixtures, some reform Jews allow cremation. Therefore, we can never rely upon one simple answer to each culture or religion.

Basically, the cultural sensitivity charts are best used as a guideline to understanding what some people within that specific culture or religion adhere to. It is by no means an absolute guide to understanding all the people that affiliate with that culture or religion.