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My grandfather has been in the ICU since thanksgiving after his heart stopped. I was told that they are taking him off the ventilator tonight, and that they were planning the funeral for this weekend. I scheduled a flight, I informed my boss and can take bereavement days. Then I got a text saying my grandpa is sleeping, and he may pass in minutes or days, the doctors can't tell.

So what do I do now? I figure I go anyway, if he is still alive then I can say goodbye at least. Though, if he lives through the weekend and passes next week I'd have to miss the funeral or maybe use vacation days or 'work from home' or something.

The whole thing is odd to me and I'd like to know if I'm doing something clearly wrong as I feel I misled my boss, though all I told him was they were taking him off the ventilator and that my father was scheduling the funeral for this weekend.

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    Just be truthful. Most people understand. I wish the best for you at such a bad time – Ed Heal Dec 8 '15 at 3:43
  • Unless your boss is heartless he will give you compassionate leave to be with your grandfather. In fact you are probably safe to assume this before you get it granted. – Qwerky Dec 8 '15 at 12:32
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    What did you do wrong? What could you have done that you didn't do? It sounds like you've done everything correctly. As everyone is saying, just let your boss know and you should be fine. All the best for you and your family. – A N Dec 8 '15 at 16:10
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    With decent managers I've never heard of this being an issue. – Tim Dec 8 '15 at 20:55
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    Family always, always comes first. – sevenseacat Dec 9 '15 at 7:59
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I'd like to know if I'm doing something clearly wrong

Don't worry about it, it's out of your control. Go and make your peace. If it takes longer than you had thought it would, either say your goodbyes or contact work for a leave extension.

I went to Australia for my mother when she went into a coma and only had a couple of days. It turned out she came out of the coma and lasted another few months, but I still went and made my goodbyes and felt the better for it. Loved ones only die once; it's more important than work sometimes. But, unless you're one of the people whose grandad seems to die twice a year every year (yes they exist), your boss will understand and not put obstacles in your way which might embitter you towards your work.

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    +1 Your job and professional career can wait, but your grandpa can't. Go and make him happy in the last moments. Your management are also people, and they'd definitely understand. – Dawny33 Dec 8 '15 at 6:11
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Then I got a text saying my grandpa is sleeping, and he may pass in minutes or days, the doctors can't tell.

So what do I do now?

First, I'm very sorry to hear about your grandpa. The good thing is that you may be there in time to say a last goodbye.

Just be up-front with your employer.

Explain what the doctors have said and that it's important to you and your family to be there. Tell your boss that you will stay in touch and (if you want to) work as much as you can remotely.

Plan on using whatever personal/vacation days you have available if your bereavement days run out.

The whole thing is odd to me and I'd like to know if I'm doing something clearly wrong as I feel I misled my boss, though all I told him was they were taking him off the ventilator and that my father was scheduling the funeral for this weekend.

You haven't misled him, you are just relaying what you know in a changing situation.

I've had this happen to folks that work for me. On one occasion, he had to go back to India, and was away for a month. It happens. He was able to do a small bit of remote work - I really appreciated the effort. Because of that, and because he had always worked hard, I was able to pay him for most of the days even though he exhausted his paid time off for the year.

As a manager, I understand how these things work. You need to deal with your family situation first, and worry about work second.

Keep your boss in the loop, and he'll appreciate it.

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    @JoeStrazzere...good on you. – dwoz Dec 9 '15 at 1:12
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You are experiencing a family emergency. While you are in the midst of it, it may seem like you might offend your boss or work by spending time with family during this important event.

Don't worry about it so much. Not only do you have legal protections in most jurisdictions that allow you space and time to deal with such emergencies, you'll find most bosses and employers are very supportive during this sensitive time. They've not only worked with other employees through similar crisis, but often they've dealt with similar situations in their own life, and they'll have sympathy if not full empathy for your emergency.

Keep your boss in the loop, but don't worry about providing detail or explicit timeframes. Indicate that you'll be back when the situation makes it suitable to return, and that you may be away from work for longer than you originally anticipated due to an unexpected response to being removed from the ventilator.

If they give you any grief over your time off, when you return start looking for a new job, or discuss the situation with HR. It's not worth working for a company that doesn't understand that life is messy and supports employees through the bereavement process.

In most cases, though, I expect you'll find they are very, very supportive and you have a lot of latitude, so don't worry too much about work right now - spend time with your family and let the grieving process happen.

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I was in this situation when my grandfather declined from lung cancer over about 2 years. There is no easy answer. You will want to see him when he is healthy, you will want to see him before he passes, and you will want to attend the funeral. Between vacation days and bereavement days, it is very hard to do all three.

In my personal opinion, you should see him when he is well and for his funeral but you certainly cannot plan on seeing someone the moment they pass when you are living and working from far away. Life will not be that convenient. It sounds like you are home right now to try to be with him when he does, and the consequence is that you may have to book a trip back to work when the outcome is uncertain, only to book a trip right back home a day later should he pass.

During this time, if you want to spend more time with your grandpa when he is well (should he become more well again) you may give up on your vacation to the Bahamas or wherever. That is how things work: you get vacation days to divide between "fun" and "family," and at this point in your life it sounds like you would prioritize family.

Yes, your trips will be ad hoc and on short notice. This is a family emergency and that is prudent with your manager. You will then discuss how to count the days as vacation or bereavement and you'll come to some reasonable conclusion, and it's totally okay to save this discussion for later. It is very hard to attenuate a trip home on the expectation that he will soon pass, however.

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Consider the whole question moot. You are not, we can all assume, in the habit of "killing off fictitious relatives" to get time off.

Your manager has a grandfather too. Likely as not. Most people actually do have grandparents, sometimes even four of them.

Just tell your boss that "this one seems to be a bit open-ended. I'll keep you informed."

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