After the tragic death of his 18 year old daughter in a car accident, grieving father Barry Kluger joined forces with another grieving father, Kelly Farley, whose son and daughter died 18 months apart due to prenatal complications to try to make a difference for all grieving families. The result of the Farley-Kluger initiative went all the way to Washington D.C., where the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 was introduced in Congress in the summer of 2011.
Although politics prevented Congress from voting on the bill in 2011, Kluger and Farley haven't given up. They're trying to get the bill reintroduced for the 2013 Congressional session. Next year would be a particularly fitting year for the bill, as the intention of it is to extend the Family Medical Leave Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. The twenty year anniversary could finally mark the time when grieving parents get the time they need to mourn written into law.
Currently, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants people up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave when medical or personal reasons arise. Some of the life events currently covered by FML A include:
- birth of a child
- adoption of a child
- personal medical condition
- medical condition of a family member that requires a worker to care for them
- caring for an injured serviceman or servicewoman
However, the bereavement leave policy of most companies is only 3 days. How can a family who has just lost a child be expected to function normally at work in only 3 days? As Kluger wrote in USA Today, "Grieving employees are often listless when they return to their jobs -- or, in the worst cases, fired, because they cannot focus on their lives, let alone on the task at hand. Imagine, 12 weeks if you have a child, but just two to three days to bury that child. That's the law."
If you'd like to support the Farley-Kluger initiative, you can sign the petition and send a message of your own to Congress. I know I'll be signing!
Photo courtesy of The Architect of the Capitol