Grief and bereavement support

Blogs 5 Oct 2021

Bereavement can have huge impact on an individual under any circumstances, especially throughout the pandemic. Christine Husbands from FSB Care shares where you can find support as well as the help you can offer employees.

A sad looking man talks on the phone while leaning against a wall

According to research by the University of Cambridge, a “silent epidemic” of grief is leaving people unable to cope with bereavement. The report estimates that for every death, nine people are affected by bereavement and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the bereaved, whether from COVID or otherwise is now becoming apparent, with services struggling to cope. 

For those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, grief is likely to be more complicated and prolonged. This is due to reasons such as more sudden deaths, the inability to be with loved ones at the end, inability to die in their place of choice, loved ones dying alone, restrictions on viewing the body and funeral arrangements. 

Support for the bereaved 

Bereavement can have huge impact on an individual under any circumstances. Everyone grieves differently, there is no right and wrong way to grieve and, in most cases, it is life-changing. The complexity caused by the pandemic, can only add to this. 

Bereavement can also trigger or exacerbate long-term mental health issues such as panic attacks, suicidal feelings, anxiety, and depression.  Following a bereavement, emotions are intensified and employees may struggle with sadness, anger, irritability, to name but a few. 

In March 2021, Cruse Bereavement Care reported that over 750,000 people were suffering intense grief as a result of the pandemic. Six months on, this number can only have grown. 

Services such a Cruse have seen a significant increase in demand for their services and an already over-stretched NHS is further burdened, leaving many bereaved people unable to access support. 

Where can you find external support? 

You may experience a loss of confidence and self-esteem or worry about letting your employees down. When you’re running your own business, external support can help you to talk openly about your feelings and help you to develop coping strategies to cope with everyday life and work. 

Long-term emotional support can be a lifeline during a bereavement and a wide range of practical help can also be provided. This could include: 

  • decisions regarding care facilities for a parent 
  • supporting children in their grief 
  • adjusting to personal circumstances 
  • preparing to return to your business 

Charities and self-help groups can be very beneficial such as National Bereavement Partnership, Cruse Bereavement Care, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS )and specifically for children, young adults & families; Child Bereavement UK, Winstons Wish and Grief Encounter. 

Although some people are comfortable talking to friends and family about their loss, others may benefit from structured bereavement counselling and this needs to be provided at the right time. Many professionals agree it is most beneficial around six months following the death as often these intense emotions will subside naturally over time. 

How can you help your employee as a business owner? 

You should acknowledge the impact on a grieving employee and give appropriate flexibility and support to make working life the best it can be.  

Regular informal reviews or check-ins with bereaved employees are helpful. There is often a tendency not to mention the death for fear of upsetting, but this can be misinterpreted as lack of caring. You should beware assuming you know what would most help the individual, but they will know that best themselves. Employers are often surprised at how simple adjustments at work can make all the difference. 

It is important not to forget workplace colleagues, as they are likely to be impacted by increased workloads due to a team member’s absence or change to working hours, but also may feel concern for the bereaved and be unsure how to engage with them.  

Support for FSB members 

Support is available to bereaved members from FSB Care, including a 1:1 relationship with a nurse helping you navigate through the long-term and complex process of grief.  

Zena supported me through the grieving process after the sudden loss of my Dad last year. I cannot thank her enough for her kindness and non-judgemental listening ear. Being able to express my feelings freely in a safe confidential environment was liberating. She has been my rock through a very difficult time.  

Beneficial additional services can be provided such as bereavement counselling, relaxation massage and hypnotherapy. Members can also speak to FSB Care for advice about an employee. 


 

You don’t have to face it alone

Running your own business isn’t always smooth sailing, but when you’re the boss, who can you turn to? Access confidential and long-term support for physical or mental health conditions from FSB Care. We’re here for you.