The Right to Grieve

Erik Baker in Jewish Currents:

The truth is that American society has made persistent grief disabling, because the demands that grief makes on a person are at odds with the way that American capitalism expects people to comport themselves as workers. The normal worker, in our economic system, is a person whose ability to work is not impaired by grief—not someone who doesn’t experience loss, which would of course be impossible, but someone who simply doesn’t let it get to them. There is no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave in the United States, except in the state of Oregon. In fact, Department of Labor guidance on the Fair Labor Standards Act explicitly cites mourning as the example par excellence of unprotected non-work: Federal law “does not require payment for time not worked, including attending a funeral.”

While the ideal worker under this regime is supposed to keep calm and carry on in the face of any loss, real workers experience grief all the time—in which case they must depend on the generosity of their bosses. Support is too often lacking.

More here.