A Bereaved Parent’s (tongue-in-cheek) Guide to Job Postings

By Suzanne Leigh

The job posting says: “Fast-paced environment”
What it really means: Limited opportunities to goof off.
What it means to bereaved parents: Limited time to hightail it to the restroom to compose yourself if you are grabbed by a grief burst.

The job posting says: “We are a family-friendly company”
What it really means: On-site childcare facility (probably an expensive one) and some flexibility with working hours.
What it means to bereaved parents: A lot of kid-related chitchat from coworkers. This may or may not strike a raw nerve.

The job posting says: “Sense of humor required!”
What it really means: We try to weed out wretches and whiners before they’re hired.
What it means to bereaved parents: You might need to brush up on your ability to deliver a pleasing smile. You will be required to laugh at appropriate times; you must accomplish this without tearing up at the same time.

The job posting says: “Must be flexible and willing to take on new challenges.”
What it really means: Required to fix the photocopier and master other office hardware and software without an attitude and without haranguing the admin assistant.
What it means to bereaved parents: That recalcitrant photocopier or software program you may be ordered to learn might cause untold stress. That’s because grief takes its toll on short-term memory and the ability to learn new skills. You might be able to compensate for any gaps in performance by demonstrating your fantastic sense of humor.

The job posting says: “Must be a team player”
What it really means: No divas (or divos) please.
What it means to bereaved parents: Will you look like a lousy team player if you opt out of office celebrations and holiday parties? Will you fall out of favor if you request time off on your late child’s birthday or the anniversary of their death?

The job posting says:
“Good interpersonal skills a must”
What it really means: Must be able to put up with the divas and divos who somehow sneaked through HR’s hiring process; as well as those employees who clearly lack a sense of humor or expect you to fix the photocopier for them.
What it means to bereaved parents: You might develop dental problems as a result of prolonged tooth grinding. Bereaved parents’ tolerance threshold is low when it comes to annoying people.

The job posting says: “Conveniently located near highways 502, 630 and 895″
What it really means: Yes, it is a hellish commute but real estate is cheaper here.
What it means to bereaved parents: Oh no. Extensive driving means lots of watch-the-road time that can segue into a grief burst. That’s less likely to happen on public transit with the more engaging distractions of newspapers or technology.

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