Several clients have asked if I can help their employees manage grief and bereavement. So, having completed some specialist training, I am now launching this as a new programme area.
Let’s think about why this is important to your people and your firm or business.
Grief and Bereavement management is a way you can help as an employer or HR professional when terminal illness or death affects your team.
Power of workplace
We can’t underestimate the power of the workplace on our emotions. Indeed, parental and return to work coaching offered by Confidence to Return is all about how we can successfully mesh our private lives with our time at work.
A new baby, and recovery from ill health are positive groundings for coaching. News of death or terminal illness, though more negative, is also something that affects us all, in both our personal and working lives. And it needs to be addressed.
Challenge grief taboo
Death, dying and grief can still be taboo subjects for discussion in the UK. We reach for the euphemisms and keep our feelings tight to our chests. Uncomplaining stoicism has its place but our stiff upper lip can mask feelings of confusion, guilt, fear, and of course, great sadness and heartbreak.
This is why Grief and Bereavement management programmes help. They are not an emotional free-for-all. Rather they offer a structure where people can explore the effects of Grief and Bereavement, and ways to manage them.
Let’s consider our colleagues — be they lovable, dry-witted, hard-working, funny, kind, clever or generous. Because UK working hours are long, our colleagues can become like family – sometimes in that love ‘em or loathe ‘em way. Often we spend more time awake with them than with our partners, if you add it up.
We often need to invest emotional effort into getting on. We share challenges —and lunch at our desks — meet deadlines, enjoy a bit of competitive banter. We celebrate and commiserate together. (And we really like some of them too! Many long-term love relationships are born of office romances). And that means they matter. What happens to our colleagues really matters to us. So when we hear they are seriously ill, in danger or have died suddenly it can have a profound emotional effect. This in turn can affect how we work and perform as a team.
A hard year
Maybe social media has amplified the news but 2017 seems to have driven home the truth that horrible, cruel things can happen to anyone, at any time. Wicked acts of terrorism and avoidable catastrophes such as Grenfell Tower, that make me want to turn the world off for a while.
We all see the emotional devastation caused by such events and the many faces it takes — the numbed, the grateful, the distraught. (And — let’s remember — the bravery and kindness of strangers that seems to roll in like a following wave.)
Disaster recovery plan
Have you considered how your firm might look after employees in circumstances like these? And to help them cope with the ‘everyday’ tragedies that don’t make the news, but which affect us all. Death by suicide. A road accident. We could write an endless list.
We can think about the disaster recovery plans that firms create to keep their business going when the ‘worst happens’. They can’t get into their building and so need to software backups, emergency office space, and a protocol setting out responsibilities to ensure business continuity.
Grief and Bereavement management programmes can serve as disaster recovery plans for your priceless human assets.
Terminal illness announcement.
Illness is perhaps the most common cause of Grief and Bereavement. Has this happened to you as a manager or HR professional? An employee has been unwell. Then she has to go on long-term sick leave. And then you have to tell the team that she won’t be coming back, because she has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
As well as being upsetting, this news could be frightening for her colleagues. And it will prompt questions:
· what do I say?
· should I be saying it?
· should I keep in touch?
· is it wrong to worry about how I feel?
· is it wrong that this makes me feel sad about my family?
· who is going to do their work?
· how will we manage without them?
· who is my manager now?
· how can I stay loyal to my ill colleague?
These questions need answers, and that’s where Confidence to Return Grief and Bereavement management can help.
Power of programme
At Confidence to Return, we consider facts, ideas, processes and philosophies that can help employees take a step back. People have different coping mechanisms and life experiences. Be you stoic or grief stricken, there is no right or wrong.
Grief, anxiety and strong emotions can drive teams apart – Grief and Bereavement work can encourage people to make connections. Encourage them to keep making that powerful effort to bond I mentioned earlier.
Our Grief and Bereavement management programme is a way to help employees:
· understand their grief
· find the confidence to communicate with their terminally ill colleague
· adjust and adapt to the change
· finally move forward through grief to acceptance
Our support can be delivered in a group workshop, or one-to-one.
And we can offer different levels of support across your organization. Work relationships differ and cast different ripples. You can work one-to-one every day with some colleagues. You’re close-knit partners. You know everything about them, and they you. Then there are the people who you work with every now and again. You know them less well but you like them. It makes you smile to see them. And people move around, especially in larger firms, switching teams and new creating links.
Employees can be aware of people - and respect their work – even if they hardly know them to speak to. The power of these relationships should not be underestimated. They all deserve attention. Effective Grief and Bereavement management can tailor support accordingly.
Support for managers
Managers, heads of department and HR are also grieving, while having to deal with employees’ grief. An outsourced expert can let them step away from their professional position and find the support they need too.
Personal grief management
And personal grief management can be offered to help employees with the deaths of partners, parents, and children — including through stillbirth or miscarriage.
Our programmes typically come in three stages: After the announcement, Stage 2: After the loss, and Stage 3: After time
Legacy Value Grief and Bereavement work can offer a powerful legacy that goes beyond coping with the individual loss. You can help your team learn and develop.
· explore and process emotions
· understand loss and grief
· communicate more effectively.
Help them find stronger coping strategies, build resilience and a supportive workplace community.
Yes. We could ‘go down the pub to forget about it’ or ‘just get on with things’ but isn’t that ducking the issue of death?
Grief and Bereavement coaching can allow, encourage, and guide your team to think about how they are coping.Want to take this brave step? We think it’s the right choice.
Please get in touch to find out how I can help.
Confidence to Return
Returning to work is our business.
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