While battling fatigue and low energy, home maintenance issues are often sidelined when a person is grieving. As anyone who has ever owned a home knows, these tasks, if neglected, can quickly add up to an overwhelming laundry list that affects personal well-being, relationships and safety. To help alleviate some of that stress, consider engaging a pool of workplace volunteers and/or providing a list of helpful local resources that your employee can refer to when they need it.
Here are a few home maintenance tasks that are so routine they’re often overlooked when considering ways to help an employee suffering from a life disruption.
From mowing the lawn and raking leaves to weeding the garden and watering plants, there’s always something that needs to be done in the yard. For a griever who never managed these tasks before or simply doesn’t have the energy to do them, such support can be invaluable until they can get their feet back under them. If it’s not possible for the team to help with lawn care, consider raising funds to hire a local lawn care company to mow the yard or provide a list of lawn care companies you trust.
Taking the trash to the curb on trash pick-up day might seem like a simple enough task, but if it was a job the griever’s loved one always managed, it can be upsetting. Take the load off by offering to put the trash and recycling out for collection for the time being.
Challenging tasks and minor home repairs.
Tasks like fixing a leaky faucet, switching out furnace filters, cleaning clogged gutters and replacing hard-to-reach smoke alarm batteries and lightbulbs can be frustrating and distressing, especially for an individual who relied on their now-deceased spouse to perform these household jobs. In some cases, it may not be physically feasible for a griever to perform these tasks on their own, especially if the job requires pulling out a heavy ladder. Provide a list of local handymen who take on small repair jobs and companies like TaskRabbit that your employee can refer to for assistance.
Snow shoveling and other weather-related events.
Did your community get hit with winter weather like snow and/or ice? If your company has a volunteer support team, organize a group to clear the sidewalks and driveway for your employee. Not only is it an act of goodwill, but it also ensures the safety of your employee, delivery drivers and visitors. In the same vein, if your employee’s home was in the line of storm damage offer to stop by and help remove heavy tree branches and other yard detritus. Many local lawn service companies are also equipped to take care of these kinds of tasks.
In colder climates, sprinkler systems may need to be turned off and turned back on seasonally. Add a reminder in your calendar to check in with your employee to ensure they remember to take care of this easily forgotten task (which if neglected, can result in expensive home repairs). If you know how to tackle this job, offer to help or provide a referral to a company you trust to take care of it.
Home repair contractors.
For complicated jobs that require an expert, gather and provide a list of referrals to trusted contractors, including plumbers, electricians, roofers, window washers, gutter cleaners, pest control, etc.
Common household tasks like laundry, sweeping, watering houseplants, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, wiping down counters, vacuuming and mopping can easily pile up under the burden of grief. If your employee is open to it, consider raising funds to hire a professional house cleaner to stop in a few times or provide your employee with a helpful resource list that includes a list of vetted house cleaning service providers.
If your employee needs to move or downsize due to changing financial circumstances, provide a relocation resource list that includes trusted referrals to local realtors and moving companies that help with various aspects of the moving process, including boxing up household items, moving heavy furniture, hooking up electronics, assembling furniture and hanging pictures at their new home.
If you’re creating a list of local resources for your employee, helpful referrals include:
- Errand companies who pick up prescriptions, assemble furniture, manage minor household tasks, etc. (ex., TaskRabbit)
- Area handymen who take on odd household jobs (Nextdoor Neighbor could be a good resource)
- Vetted house cleaning companies/individuals
- Lawn care companies (lawn mowing, snow shoveling, leaf clean-up, sprinkler system maintenance)
- Grocery stores that offer online shopping and grocery delivery
- Window washers
- Gutter cleaners
- Pest control
- Wash/fold laundry services
- Moving companies
- Professional home organizers (who can help with downsizing, cleaning out closets, etc.)