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Sybrina Fulton with her sons, Jahvaris and TrayvonIt’s been two months since Sybrina Fulton unexpectedly and tragically lost her son Trayvon Martin. But it’s not just grief she has to deal with, though that’s certainly enough. There’s the trial of George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing her child, and all of the public outcry surrounding the story that’s made this case the source of national debate and a social powder keg.
Now, to give her the space and autonomy to grieve and fight on behalf of Trayvon, Fulton has received 34 weeks of time off donated from her fellow Miami-Dade County government employees. Their generosity will allow her to be paid during her leave. Wouldn’t it be nice if every parent wading through the trauma of losing a child could be extended the same kind of gift? Bereavement leave just doesn't cut it when you compare it to the death of one of your babies.
On the heels of her first Mother’s Day without Trayvon, Fulton continues to wow me with her diplomacy and grace. So I’m thankful that almost 200 people donated paid time off to her, which added up to 1,362 hours for a total of 34 paid weeks. Trayvon’s aunt, Yolanda Knight Evans, received 70 hours, which pans out to nine weeks to enable her to lend support to the cause and work through her own grief, as well. Typically, donations for time off are capped at two weeks but a special resolution was passed last month allowing employees to donate vacation time to Fulton and Knight Evans, given the unusual circumstances surrounding the case.
It’s a wonderful show of selflessness from their fellow government employees, that’s for sure. And considering the ugliness this case has brought out of seemingly normal, humane people, it’s a welcomed breath of fresh air demonstrating basic empathy and compassion. Because of this move, Fulton and Knight Evans won’t have to worry about losing their jobs as they navigate justice for Trayvon. But it should also set a precedent for private and public companies to allow their staffs to do the same for other grieving parents.
When this case is over and victory has finally—hopefully—been handed down, that peace of mind should become the standard for other mothers and fathers coping with the death of a child. Even without the legal quagmire surrounding this situation, it’s important for families to have time to heal and adjust to a new life. It’s impossible to put a time stamp on the grieving period a mother or father needs to heal from their loss (and really, there’s no end to it, I’m sure). But it’s safe to say that the standard two weeks doesn’t cut it.
Do you think this case should set a new standard for bereavement leave for parents?
Image via Twitter