‘compassion trumps policy and procedure’
The Irish Hospice Foundation wisely advises that when it comes to workplace bereavement ‘compassion trumps policy and procedure’. Grief is not just sadness – it is a complicated variety of experiences and symptoms that range from exhaustion to anger, loss of appetite and more. Grief in the workplace, like many other forms of stress, has increased with one health insurer reporting a 40% increase in queries to its Employee Assistance Programme seeking advice on how to support bereavement and loss.
As we all continue to bravely and anxiously step out into the post-pandemic world, it is important that in the midst of moving on, we don’t forget that the pace will be different for everyone and every work place. A useful phrase I recently heard recommends that ‘when you invite someone somewhere, make sure they know their grief is invited too’. This is true of the workplace too – let the grieving person set the terms and be ready to accommodate their grief, it has after all changed their life. Equally, where a colleague has died, a workplace can struggle to adjust and come to terms with the loss, especially if time has passed.