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Eight ways to support bereaved employees


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Next week is National Grief Awareness Week, meaning there is an opportunity for employers and OH to be stepping back and reflecting on the health and wellbeing they offer to employees dealing with grief or the loss of a loved one, highlights Debra Clark.
Bereavement has affected more people than usual over the past year amid the turmoil of Covid-19. According to the Office for National Statistics, the weekly death rate for England and Wales is still some 13% above the five-year average.
With many employees also still working from home and having lost some of their social networks, coping with grief is perhaps harder than ever.
The fact, too, it is National Grief Awareness Week from next week (2-8 December) means there is an opportunity for employers – working with occupational health practitioners – to step back and reflect on the health and wellbeing support they offer to employees dealing with grief or the loss of a loved one.
Covid has brought bereavement and grief to the fore. While everyone deals with grief differently there are certain practical and emotional resources that can be of help across many different circumstances.
For employers, it is not only about helping the individual directly affected, but also building skills among their colleagues so that they too can cope and offer support.
Here, then, are eight ways in which employers can support employees in this difficult situation.
1) Understanding the process
Having an understanding of the grieving process is helpful both for the employee affected and for those around them. The grief curve or Kubler-Ross Model shows the five common stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
People will go through these at a different speed, depth, and even order, but there is a similar overall process for most people. Having an emotional understanding of the process is a big step towards helping those who are bereaved and to coming to terms with the situation oneself.
There are also practical steps that can be taken and these are often appreciated by colleagues who are not sure how best to be of help.
2) Talk about it
While it is often hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving

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