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The Grieving Innkeeper

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swirt

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I think most of us on this forum have been unfortunate enough to have lost someone close to us in a timeframe that forced us to grieve and be an innkeeper at the same time. This is one thing that I think never penetrates the rose colored glasses of the aspiring innkeeper unless they have been fortunate enough to hang out here for a while and pay attention.
So rather than address this when one of us is in the midst of loss...
Unlike weddings or other planned events that family has some hope of scheduling before your availability calendar fills up, there are few instances where the loss of a loved one is planned. It surprises you and has the potential to overwhelm you, but the guests keep coming.
High on the list of things aspirings should consider is private space. Private space was essential to us while grieving. We could put on the "life's ok" face with the guests for a little while, but we needed our own space where we could let that mask down and grieve without becoming a guest's burden / show.
This is also a time when having a partner who can run the full show can also be a help. Even if you always do 90% of the work, it is helpful if your significant other has some experience and can do that work in a pinch (knows the process and procedures). That way they can fill in if the primary innkeeper is overwhelmed (due to a closer connection to the person lost) and the same is true if the primary innkeeper is injured/ill.
So I'll toss this out for the rest, other than faith, what tips or advice do you have for keeping things running while grief is on your doorstep?
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Have things set up so that the other person who can step in blindly can find what you have done and track it. LEAVE NOTES on the reservations that he or she would understand. You won't have time to do training when it happens.
Also have some stand-by simple meals that the other person is able to make for guests.
 

Willowpondgj

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I lost both of my grandmothers in the same month (March) this year and could only afford to go to one funeral. It was a complete bummer. Luckily after the notice of my second grandmother, we had a guest that was "meant to be" that morning, I was just in shock, a zombie. She turned out to be like an old friend and we just sat at the table and talked all morning, it was just her that morning (thank God!) and she was supposed to be there that morning. I was lucky.
I don't know what you can do to prepare, other than what JBJ said, have simple things ready to go and leave notes, just try to cover the minimum and maybe if a group is going to be affected by changes in plans that you need to make, call them and give them a heads up (or have some one call for you, if you can't do it)
 

Copperhead

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Well I do not think you are ever prepared enough in any way. When my mother was placed in ICU in mid Dec. not expected to live, I packed my bags traveled 500 miles and left my DH in charge. At that time I had packed 4 changes of casual cloths and an outfit for the funeral.
Dec & Jan are busy months here so it wasn't the ideal time but - it never is. Mom passed away on Jan. 4 and I did not return home until the 7th, over 4 weeks from when I left.
What made it doable for DH was the fact that we had created a daily planner for our relief innkeepers when we went on vacation. We have used this planner for the last 3 years, improving it as experiences happened. Included in the planner are instructions for taking calls, making reservations, processing CC's, where circuit brakers are, you name it it is in there. Of course DH did not need all that info but it the planner was his bible while I was gone. I think he only asked me 2-3 questions the entire time I was gone, and those were more on personal matters than business matters.
I don't know which one of us missed the other more - I sure could have used the shoulder to lean on, and he sure was exhausted when I returned.
So my tip is to create a daily planner. It can be used for many purposes but I hope you never need to use it for the purpose of this thread.
 

trishany

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Me -- I THINK I would just shut down, and need alot of time to think -- hubby would PROBABLY be okay to run the B&B, but I don't know.
A tough question -- but glad you brought it up.
 

YellowSocks

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Well I do not think you are ever prepared enough in any way. When my mother was placed in ICU in mid Dec. not expected to live, I packed my bags traveled 500 miles and left my DH in charge. At that time I had packed 4 changes of casual cloths and an outfit for the funeral.
Dec & Jan are busy months here so it wasn't the ideal time but - it never is. Mom passed away on Jan. 4 and I did not return home until the 7th, over 4 weeks from when I left.
What made it doable for DH was the fact that we had created a daily planner for our relief innkeepers when we went on vacation. We have used this planner for the last 3 years, improving it as experiences happened. Included in the planner are instructions for taking calls, making reservations, processing CC's, where circuit brakers are, you name it it is in there. Of course DH did not need all that info but it the planner was his bible while I was gone. I think he only asked me 2-3 questions the entire time I was gone, and those were more on personal matters than business matters.
I don't know which one of us missed the other more - I sure could have used the shoulder to lean on, and he sure was exhausted when I returned.
So my tip is to create a daily planner. It can be used for many purposes but I hope you never need to use it for the purpose of this thread..
I like the Daily Planner idea, and I like having a better name for it than "Emergency Book in Case of Death or Dismemberment of Innkeeper(s)." I was planning to put some kind of book like that together that someone like my sister could use in case we are ever in a horrible accident or something... at least she could cancel people's reservations! Her take... "Why would I cancel them? Your estate will need the money!"
Daily Planner it is!
I also agree 100% on the private space... somewhere you can retreat to and be emotional.
Finally, this applies for all people, not just innkeepers... give yourself time and space to mourn. Keep a journal, go for walks alone, take soaking baths, write a eulogy or lament... don't pent it up!
=)
Kk.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Express your desires should this come up. When we had a death one month ago, someone very special to me. DH thought he was being nice by telling the guests WHY THEY HAD TO PUT UP WITH HIM.
SO I put on a smile the next morning and walked into the parlor and these guests said to me "Sorry for your loss, we can move on if you like?"
That was the WORST THING, we had a houseful, and that night again, it was not going to stop because I said so.
I got angry at DH at the time and angrier at those guests. I thought that was just plain rude.
I did not go near a guest the rest of that day until the new shipment showed up.
So might want to make sure the guests think it is business as usual. They are so intrusive, but don't need to know our personal stuff. REALLY.
 

gillumhouse

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I managed during the 6 weeks DH was in the hospital and rehab during his 6-way bypass last year, kept all my obligations (did not weenie and ask for a replacement), and actually had a revolving door of guests who did not know he was in hospital. I was OK until I got hit with needing a ramp built over a weekend of freak heat-wave. THAT put me over the edge into meltdown but thankfully no guests until the night of the ramp rebuild - and they wanted to help!
I have been blessed in that Daddy died (here) right after I opened so I was not busy and when bil died (here) and during his illness the times that the last thing i needed was guests (the weekend everything FINALLY moved! Whew!) I was blessed with being empty. Yes, I do need a plan, but for me it would be making calls to find other lodgings because DH could not do it - he can only do B & B if I have it ready for oven or for serve.
We ARE the old generation and have no family closer than 600 miles. If something happened with the family we would have a problem greater than the B & B - travel is not much of an option for DH these days if it is more than one night and/or more than an afternoon drive.
We are the other end of the spectrum. The grieving will most likely be for the spouse. We are the ones next in line for the services of the establishment across the street from us.
 

seashanty

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I managed during the 6 weeks DH was in the hospital and rehab during his 6-way bypass last year, kept all my obligations (did not weenie and ask for a replacement), and actually had a revolving door of guests who did not know he was in hospital. I was OK until I got hit with needing a ramp built over a weekend of freak heat-wave. THAT put me over the edge into meltdown but thankfully no guests until the night of the ramp rebuild - and they wanted to help!
I have been blessed in that Daddy died (here) right after I opened so I was not busy and when bil died (here) and during his illness the times that the last thing i needed was guests (the weekend everything FINALLY moved! Whew!) I was blessed with being empty. Yes, I do need a plan, but for me it would be making calls to find other lodgings because DH could not do it - he can only do B & B if I have it ready for oven or for serve.
We ARE the old generation and have no family closer than 600 miles. If something happened with the family we would have a problem greater than the B & B - travel is not much of an option for DH these days if it is more than one night and/or more than an afternoon drive.
We are the other end of the spectrum. The grieving will most likely be for the spouse. We are the ones next in line for the services of the establishment across the street from us..
it depends who passes on
my dad died late march, i was expecting it so had trained someone local to handle the basics in case he passed away while we were in season. i was sad but it was the kind of grieving that comes in waves and iknew he was at the end of his life. i went to my stepson's graduation late may and had a nephew and his wife run the place with the help of the local and it went great. (not a sad reason to be away but i found out what i had not left instructions about)
when my husband died, i was in shock for a couple months. would not have been able to innkeep at that time. i lost whole blocks of time, forgot my way, forgot where i was going, forgot my bank pin number, could not eat or sleep or would just weep. and for months after i was not myself. if that kind of loss should occur to anyone with that kind of reaction, hiring an interim innkeeper would be the only way to keep the place open.
ideally: as preparation not necessarily for a death, but an emergency or just so you can be away for a bit .... have a book of instructions for all the random things you do, places you buy things, who you call for whatever ... passwords ... keys ... all the little details ... and a way someone can reach you for what you forgot to put in the book. then go away for a day, leaving that person in charge.
 

EmptyNest

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Well I do not think you are ever prepared enough in any way. When my mother was placed in ICU in mid Dec. not expected to live, I packed my bags traveled 500 miles and left my DH in charge. At that time I had packed 4 changes of casual cloths and an outfit for the funeral.
Dec & Jan are busy months here so it wasn't the ideal time but - it never is. Mom passed away on Jan. 4 and I did not return home until the 7th, over 4 weeks from when I left.
What made it doable for DH was the fact that we had created a daily planner for our relief innkeepers when we went on vacation. We have used this planner for the last 3 years, improving it as experiences happened. Included in the planner are instructions for taking calls, making reservations, processing CC's, where circuit brakers are, you name it it is in there. Of course DH did not need all that info but it the planner was his bible while I was gone. I think he only asked me 2-3 questions the entire time I was gone, and those were more on personal matters than business matters.
I don't know which one of us missed the other more - I sure could have used the shoulder to lean on, and he sure was exhausted when I returned.
So my tip is to create a daily planner. It can be used for many purposes but I hope you never need to use it for the purpose of this thread..
I like the Daily Planner idea, and I like having a better name for it than "Emergency Book in Case of Death or Dismemberment of Innkeeper(s)." I was planning to put some kind of book like that together that someone like my sister could use in case we are ever in a horrible accident or something... at least she could cancel people's reservations! Her take... "Why would I cancel them? Your estate will need the money!"
Daily Planner it is!
I also agree 100% on the private space... somewhere you can retreat to and be emotional.
Finally, this applies for all people, not just innkeepers... give yourself time and space to mourn. Keep a journal, go for walks alone, take soaking baths, write a eulogy or lament... don't pent it up!
=)
Kk.
.
When my 19 year old cat died, I was beside myself. I tried my best with the guests( just one couple) and then we started talking...and of course, they were cat lovers. We then all cried and hugged together. I normally wouldn't do that..but we connected and it was ok.
 
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