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Dealing with bereavement in business

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Grief is one of the most difficult things anyone will face in their lives and balancing work with bereavement is a tough juggle.

There are challenges whether you run your own business or are an employee, especially if you are unsure of your rights. If you are an employer of someone who has been bereaved and/or a parent of a child who is also suffering you have additional things to consider.

Getting support during bereavement

First things first, if you have been bereaved it’s vital to seek out the help and support you need to help you through your grief and to acknowledge what you’re going through. No-one is superhuman.

Cruse Bereavement Care is the leading national charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and offers both practical and emotional support, advice and information. Its ‘About Bereavement’ page is a good place to start.

Practicalities when someone dies

If the person who has died is particularly close to you, you may need to take on some of the practicalities.

Getting an understanding of what needs to be done and making an organised plan is likely to help you to feel less overwhelmed.

Things to consider include:

Dealing with bereavement as an employee or employer

Knowing your own rights if you are an employee or those of those you employ is vital.

Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides a guide to managing bereavement in the workplace covering good practice as well as legislated responsibilities.

The new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act, which is expected to come into force in 2020, will give employed parents a right to paid time off if they lose a child under 18 or suffer a stillbirth.

Supporting a bereaved child

As a working parent you may not only be dealing with your own grief but that of your child, which is a huge challenge all of its own.

Childhood Bereavement Network provides tips and advice for supporting a bereaved child, including words of wisdom from other parents who have been there as well as young people themselves.

Tips include:

  • Try to talk to your children honestly and explain what has happened in a way that they can understand. They need information and reassurance
  • Try to talk to your children about the funeral. Including them and giving them choices will help them to remember and say goodbye
  • Talk about the person who has died
  • Remember how children grieve will depend on their age and their understanding of events
  • Your children’s grief may be shown in behaviour, and they may be distraught one minute and playing happily the next
  • Inform the school about your child’s loss
  • Trust your instincts as a parent and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • It’s OK for you and your children to feel sad, angry, confused, empty, guilty, anxious and many other emotions – and it’s ok if you don’t.
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