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bookish1's avatar

What do I say in response to my boss's bereavement?

Asked by bookish1 (13062 points ) August 15th, 2012

I hoping that some Etiquette Jellies out there can help me.
I was trying to schedule a meeting with my boss, and in an email he said that he wouldn’t be available for the next week because he must prepare for his mother’s memorial service.
Should I express my condolences in a response email, or would that be tacky? I am inclined to send a card, but there still remains the fact that I have to respond to his email somehow, and that is where I am stuck.

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14 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m old school. I find e-mail condolences to be tacky. A card is better, in person means even more. Not fun to do, but he’s going through worse.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

On a professional level, a short e-mail response stating your condolences and that business can wait (using your own words) will help put the supervisor’s mind at ease. In addition, send a card to his home address for a more personal touch.

zenvelo's avatar

I agree with @Adirondackwannabe, a prompt card is what is called for, delivered in person if you can. He is not expecting to deal with an email response right now, and should not have to concern himself with his schedule the week after next.

creative1's avatar

I would just start off the email and say something like: I am sorry to hear of the loss of your mother and if what you were meeting about is something that can wait then I would let him know to let you know when he would be available to meet when he gets back. His mother may have passed sometime ago, a memorial service doesn’t necessarily mean she just passed a way. I know my family has a memorial service for my grandmother at her church around the date of her death every year.

CWOTUS's avatar

An email response is required, since he’s obviously still dealing with that (obviously) even while he meets his family obligations. So I wouldn’t avoid the topic, but as others have said, “I’m sorry about your news, we can take care of business later” (assuming that the business can wait).

Then follow up with a card and flowers. I wouldn’t show up in person. I expect that he’s already dealing with family and friends; he doesn’t need to have business associates showing up at his door (unless you also have a close personal relationship, in which case it’s up to you whether to show up in person or not).

bkcunningham's avatar

I second @CWOTUS‘s suggestion with the exception of automatically sending flowers. Before sending flowers make sure the family isn’t requesting something in lieu of flowers for their loved one. That could be a gigantic faux pas.

marinelife's avatar

“I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

Do not worry about the meeting. We can reschedule at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Bookish 1”

gailcalled's avatar

In my experiences of having been on the receiving end, I loved having cards and actual letters to read after the dust had settled.

I still reread many of them.

Personally, I would nix the email.

bookish1's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: I can’t give him a card in person, because he is already out of town, but thank you.

@Pied_Pfeffer: Thank you; that is just the sort of advice I was looking for.

@zenvelo: Good point, thank you.

@creative1: Thanks for the suggestion. I do know that his mother recently passed away, however; he told me she was ill over the summer.

@CWOTUS: Thanks for your perspective. I asked this question on Fluther because I wasn’t sure how to respond to the email, and I need to respond to it, even though our business isn’t pressing. And I don’t want to burden him with a personal visit while he is grieving; we have a cordial relationship but we are not friends and he is a very private person.

@bkcunningham: Thank you for pointing that out. I can’t afford to send flowers right now anyway and I think that might just embarrass him, which is not at all the desired effect.

@marinelife: Once again, hit the nail right on the head. Thank you very much!

@gailcalled: Thank you for your perspective. I’ll look for a nice card for him soon.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m with @Pied_Pfeffer.

If you send more than a card you might want to check what is appropriate for his religion (for instance Jews don’t send flowers for a funeral) or if he is asking for donations go to a certain charity. His secretary would probably know, in fact she might be taking up a collection of sorts for the office. But, I don’t think any of that is necessary, the card will be sufficient.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yeah, in reviewing the response from @bkcunningham, I wouldn’t send flowers, either (myself), but I could have said ”... flowers or whatever you would normally do at such a time” (such as read instructions to see if flowers are not-requested). I’ve never sent flowers to a bereaved family, myself.

Bellatrix's avatar

For me, I think @Pied_Pfeffer‘s response is on the money. He is still reading email so sending one in response to his is important. It allows you to tell him the meeting can wait quickly so he isn’t left hanging and wondering when you are going to respond and organise a time. However, that personal card shows you took the time out to go and buy a card and write it. It has a much stronger ring of sincerity. I wouldn’t send flowers. I think that would be too much.

bookish1's avatar

@CWOTUS: Thanks for clarifying. As aforementioned, I can’t even afford to send flowers and wasn’t thinking to do so anyway.

@Bellatrix: I agree. That is just what I did, I sent a very short email expressing my condolences and telling him that of course the meeting can wait. And I’ll send him a card tomorrow.

bookish1's avatar

Thank you to all who helped me navigate what was a new situation for me. I really appreciate it. I sent my boss a short email, and I also picked out a simple, respectful card to send him.

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