If you are confronted with illness, death or any other major problem, you have to be cool and think of an action plan. Here are some tips to cope with such a situation:
Don't tell the boss everything: Don't worry him with your problems. If your crisis worsens, then you can seek his advice or assistance. For now, just tell him bare facts. Later, if the situation turns worse, he may be able to offer you flextime or some resources to manage the crisis.
Alert only important people: Contact only those who should know. Email them saying that you are facing a crisis and you won't be able to attend to them till a week or so. Or ring up some of your clients to tell them that you have a family problem and this week you will be available in the office from say 9 am to noon.
Seek support: Request people close to your family to alert you when the situation worsens, or ask your colleague to act as your liaison between you and the office. For instance if your family member is in the hospital, request a nurse from each shift to inform you of any emergency situation and ask a colleague to forward important emails to your home.
Seek Favor: If your problem is really stressful, better you seek the help of others. You can request your neighbor to pick up your son from school. For some time, ask somebody to drive needed papers to your home or office. Seek early help and don't wait for too long.
Focus on time slots: When crisis hits first, you may have to go on leave for three days or three weeks. When things turn normal you may have to deal with pressing work. In such a situation, focused time slots can help you.
Find out if resources available from employer: Find out from HR if your company has any provision for time off, dependent-care assistance or any other facility that helps you deal with the situation. Ask your colleagues if anyone of them had received any help from the company when he faced a similar crisis. To manage your crisis, you have to get information, find support and stay focused. Make a plan to manage your office work, home needs and personal life.