When An Employee is Grieving
Most people will have the emotional stress of grief following the death of a family member.
However, the death of a child is perhaps the most devastating loss a parent may experience.
Grief is a natural and normal reaction to loss of any kind. It is a physical, emotional,
spiritual and psychological response.
Grief is a complex process, guided by our past experience, religious beliefs, socio-economic
situation, physical health and the cause of the loss. Love, anger, fear, frustration, loneliness
and guilt are all a part of grief.
It is important to understand that grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith. Living
through grief is never easy. Those who are actively grieving are caught in a web of pain,
confusion and isolation. Those surrounding the survivors often express frustration and a sense
of helplessness which may, in time, turn to annoyance if the grieving "takes too long". Yet,
grief, with its many ups and downs, lasts far longer than our society recognizes.
Research shows that there may be a loss of productivity and rise in accident rates among
employees suffering from emotional stress. An employee whose child has died may experience
some of the following:
Difficulty in making decisions
Inability to concentrate
Disinterest in job related details
Frustration and irritability
Depression and mood swings
Marital and family problems
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
There are things you can do to help ease the impact of grief on your employee's job performance.
Taking an interested and caring attitude can make a difference to both you and your employee.
Flexible personnel policies may be necessary to help the employee through the initial period
of adjustment. Be careful in assigning new tasks or responsibilities. If the employee is involved
in hazardous work, please consider a temporary adjustment in duties.
Be certain to work with the employee to determine work assignments. Communicate. Do not
but do allow the employee to indicate readiness for additional responsibilities. If there is an
employee assistance programme, make sure that it is available to the bereaved parent. Have
pamphlets about self- help groups such as The Compassionate Friends available through your
personnel or employee assistance office.
Grief is an individual response and varies according to the person and the circumstances. There
is no precise time-table for the grief process. During recovery the employee may have varying
levels of productivity. However, our experience indicates that on-the-job support enables bereaved
parents to recover and become productive employees sooner than those who do not receive support.
While resolved grief will lead to a more productive employee, unresolved grief may lead to
Helping the grieving parent will be worth your effort. Company morale may be enhanced as other
employees observe the way you handle this situation. In addition, your support can create a
special bond that may result in a more loyal, dedicated employee.
This brochure was funded by G.A.NIVEN TRUST
Copyright 1996 The Compassionate Friends