Grief and Grieving: The Importance of Grief Support in the Workplace
Employer grief support programs are gaining popularity … and saving employers money
We, at eFuneral, have posted several articles and videos on grief and grieving, but recently, I found helpful insights from Judith Johnson, published on the Huffington Post, on grief support in the workplace that I thought to share with you. Ms. Johnson explains that grief can take a toll on all aspects of individuals’ lives for a significant amount of time – but American employers typically give only four days of paid leave to those grieving the loss of a loved one. And in these stressful financial times, many grievers do not have the luxury of taking the time they need off from work in order to deal with their emotions and loss. But according to Ms. Johnson, “the denial of our grief in order to carry on as expected is far more dangerous than acknowledging that grief is typically a devastating experience that is best healed with time, compassion and reduced expectations of productivity. When we suppress our grief, it expresses itself in other ways such as depression, anger, addiction, substance abuse and physical illness.” Indeed, American businesses often pay the price for not giving employees the time they need to grieve: the average annual cost in lost productivity, lost business, and poor performance amounts to more than $75 billion for all grief-inducing experiences, according to Ms. Johnson.
It make sense that employee decision-making effectiveness and concentration would be impacted by the loss of a loved one. “Just as our physical resources are diverted to the healing process after a serious illness or injury, so is our mental and emotional energy redirected to the grieving process or the avoidance of this natural process, whether we like it or not,” writes Ms. Johnson. “Grief is an equal-opportunity employer — whether you are a CEO or an assembly line worker, when you are grieving you are a human being with a broken heart.” And it seems, based on the number of employer-sponsored grief support programs popping up, that American businesses are beginning to understand this point. Hopefully it will not be long before employers offer more paid leave to those grieving the loss of a loved one.
Grief is not a predictable process – everyone grieves differently and everyone’s grief experience is unique. I hope you will find some of the articles in our resources center helpful as you mourn the loss of a loved one. For additional support, consider taking advantage of counseling services and asking your employer about grief support services, like those listed below:
- Grief education programs, support groups, or literature
- Referrals to grief counselors or specialists
- A support network comprised of employees who have experienced the loss of a loved one
Leah Yomtovian Roush is the Senior Manager of Strategic Development for Cleveland, Ohio-based eFuneral, a comprehensive and free online resource that enables those thinking about end-of-life to research, plan, and arrange a wide variety of funeral-related services. Leah is the editor of eFuneral's Online Resource Center, and she manages the company's marketing efforts and develops strategies for company growth. Leah also serves on the Boards of multiple non-profit organizations, helping them expand their reaches and increase their impacts.