Bereavement

by Judy Carole

Bereavement is a common experience

Experts believe that if you do not grieve at the time of death, or shortly after, the grief may stay bottled up inside you. This can cause emotional problems or physical illness later on.

BUPA website

Approximately twelve thousand people die every week in the UK, so most of us will experience bereavement at some point during our working lives. Some organisations will expect their employees to return to work within a week after the funeral of family member, but other companies may allocate no time for grieving or make any allowances for grief. In the long term, this can be very harmful for both the employee and their output, since ignoring the symptoms of grief may have a negative long-term effect on the employee’s mental health and workplace productivity.

Expressions of grief clearly contradict normal workplace behaviour and would be considered symptoms of an illness in any other circumstance. These symptoms can include forgetfulness, lethargy, indecisiveness, anxiety and loss of concentration, crying and other ‘inappropriate workplace behaviour’.

The premise is that the purpose of work is to provide services and products, in most cases, with the intention of making a profit. Anything that disrupts this process potentially threatens the survival of the organisation. This makes it all the more surprising that most organisations do not have a template for bereavement anywhere in their employees’ handbook.

Note

A miscarriage, particularly one that occurs late in pregnancy, is also bereavement and in general should be treated as such. There is no question that the later the loss is in pregnancy, the bigger the impact. The grief and trauma experienced by couples after a miscarriage is severely underestimated.

It should also be borne in mind that in addition to the grieving process, the person may also feel very drained and undergo physiological discomfort as the body re-adjusts.