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So I'm in urgent need of advice. I'm really not sure how to go about this politely. My mother passed away two years ago (on my birthday, no less). She had broken her hip, and from a series of hospital mishaps, she died from an infection. I just got a call from one of her former bosses who left a message asking her to call him because he hadn't heard from her in awhile and wanted to make sure she was ok. It never occurred to me to call him when she died to tell him. They had kept in touch and I knew him, too. But at the time I just never thought to call him and tell him. Now how do I call him ( two years after the fact) and tell him she passed away? I feel really upset I neglected to tell him, and I'm afraid he's going to be upset, too. Is there proper etiquette for this sort of scenario?
Sorry if I'm rambling, I just dread having to make this call.
When my husband died (not quite three years ago), there were several people that I thought about over the next few months that I knew probably needed / deserved a phone call ... and then time passed & it just never happened. I know that at any time one of these people could get in touch with me, make a phone call, drop an email, etc., etc. ... and I would end up right where you are now.
I've thought about what I would do - at this point - in that situation.
And these are my conclusions:
1) First of all, don't feel guilty. This boss has let two years go by. Nothing gets around that fact.
2) One (ONE) apology is okay for form's sake and to get the conversation going. As in, "I am so sorry, I absolutely should have contacted you, but things were so crazy at that time ..."
3) The conversation will progress along the probably predictable lines of when? how? etc. with him feeling far worse than you.
So, give him a call ... "Mr. Former Boss, so good to hear from you (guess you've been so busy that we haven't heard from you before now) (okay - probably not that part) ... "It saddens me to tell you this, but Mom died two years ago."
And, then he'll say, "Oh no ... I had no idea!" That will give you your opportunity to apologize so that both of you feel better ... then you can drop a line or two about how much your Mom cared for him, etc., etc. & then ask him how he is ... I have learned that deflection & redirection is a sure winner.
Carolyn, my apologies to you if this sounds flippant or too nonchalant. I certainly don't mean to minimize the hurt and sadness you deal with every day on not having your Mom as close as a phone call away. In fact, my intent is just the opposite ... this guy who has popped up two years after the fact is just not something (or someone) you need to be overly concerned with. If he was truly an important person in your Mom's life, you would have heard from him before now. Do not agonize too much over this ... in the grand scheme of things, it's just not worth it.
Kelly and Vicky,
You are absolutely right. I just hate being the bearer of bad news, bad news that I will have to re-live all over again. I think I'm just going to have suck it up and call him and get it over with...and hope no one else calls looking for my mother :/
Thank you for your advice and the pep talk!!!
Oh Carolyn, I know what you're going through. When my dad died (car accident, sudden) I was living with him and going to college. Naturally, I became the executor of his estate and there was SO much to do after his death. I just didn't know how to call everyone he knew, or whether they already knew (from the funeral and obit and other friends, etc).
So there I was, months and months after his death and there's a knock at the door. My uncle, who was great friends with my dad! (He was my aunt's first husband, my cousin's father. They split 20+ years ago, but my uncle stayed close to my dad. He worked back and forth between the US and Mexico so would be gone months at a time.) Anyway, he's standing there in the door and I'm excited to see him because for me it had been years. So I get to talking and then he asks for my dad. OMG. It hit me like a brick. Of course he wouldn't have known if he was out of the country working! Gah! I didn't know how to tell him. I just started crying in front of him and he realized something was wrong. I got it out, but it wasn't easy. Of course he didn't have any blame for not being notified. That's just not something a loved one left behind can usually do 100% on their own.
And I don't know how many phone calls I had to make to businesses and such to explain he had passed away and to please stop calling for him.
I'm really sorry for your loss. ((hugs))