Employers must develop bereavement supports for staff

IFUT are very grateful to our member for sharing their story

Three weeks before I was due to start my dream job, my bright, beautiful, brave only sister, died. Anyone who has lost a sibling knows, it is an earthquake, nothing is the same again. I informed my employer and started work on the planned date. Sometimes there is a huge energy associated with grief.  I used it to learn, integrate with my colleagues and to be the best professional that I could be.

Six months and one week later, my Mum died.
Earlier, grief gave me energy, this time, I was exhausted.  The week after the funeral I returned to work and kind, caring colleagues. I vaguely noticed that my manager stopped interacting with me, but put this down to her busy workload. Eight weeks after my Mum’s death, I was informed that my probation was to be extended.  One of the reasons given was that I hadn’t “been myself” and that I needed “to get back to where I was before”, i.e. before I was bereaved.  
I was utterly devastated.

Recently, the ITN newsreader, Tom Bradby, discussed how delayed grief from the death of his parents, contributed to chronic insomnia, resulting in a five months leave from work.  Tom Bradby described the trauma as being worse than when he was shot in the leg. It is not enough to attend the funeral, it is about recognizing the event and the impact.

The Irish Hospice Foundation provide workshops on loss and bereavement - a resource which could be part of every HR unit.
We will all experience loss, couldn’t employers invest in building a bereavement pathway, I for one would have welcomed it.