Employers and Colleagues: Further Reading


The workplace with a grieving colleague after the death of a child

1. Azri, Stephanie & Ilse, Sherokee (2015). Workplace Issues. In Stephanie Azri & Sherokee. Ilse, The Prenatal Bombshell : Help and Hope When Continuing or Ending a Precious Pregnancy After an Abnormal Diagnosis (pp 185-94). Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield.

[Find in an Australian library]

2. Crowe, S. (2015). Finding a Place for Grief in the Workplace. The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, 122(2), 465-467. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000000182 [full text]

Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, and University of Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Extract: MY little child died when she was 3 weeks old. It is still so difficult to say those words. Her whole existence had been unexpected and arduous, and yet her passing away took me completely by surprise….Six months later I returned to work. Although my life event had nothing to do with work, it had robbed me of all my confidence…

3. Macdonald, M. E., Kennedy, K., Moll, S., Pineda, C., Mitchell, L. M., Stephenson, P. H., & Cadell, S. (2015). Excluding Parental Grief: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Bereavement Accommodation in Canadian Labour Standards. Work, 50(3): 511-526. doi:10.3233/WOR-141957

McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

BACKGROUND: Grief following child loss is profoundly destabilizing with serious long-term repercussions for bereaved parents. Employed parents may need time away from work to deal with this loss.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to reflect upon the ways labour policies and practices respond to parental bereavement.

METHODS: Critical discourse analysis was used to examine labour policies and practices related to employment leave for bereaved parents in Canada. Results were compared to international labour standards.

RESULTS: Universally, employment policies provide only for the practical issues of bereavement. Commonly, leave is three days, unpaid, and meant to enable ceremonial obligations. Policies do not acknowledge the long-term suffering caused by grief or the variable intensity of different kinds of loss. Managerial, moral, normative and neoliberal values embedded in these policies efface the intensely personal experience of grief, thereby leaving employees at risk for serious health and workplace safety issues.

CONCLUSIONS: Bereavement leave currently understands grief as a generic, time-limited state with instrumental tasks and ceremonial obligations. In contrast, research characterizes responses to child loss as intense, highly personal experiences for which healing and recovery can take years. This disconnect is especially problematic when viewed through the lens of employee wellbeing, reintegration and workplace productivity.

4. Marcella-Brienza, S., & Mennillo, T. (2015). Back to Work: Manager Support of Nurses with Chronic Sorrow. Creative Nursing, 21(4), 206-210. doi: 10.1891/1078-4535.21.4.206

Death: No one likes to think about it, never mind talk about it. The purpose of this article is to show the importance of the role of the nurse manager in supporting nurses who are returning to the bedside after a significant loss. Significant personal loss may lead to a phenomenon called chronic sorrow. Bereaved nurses with chronic sorrow experience grief-related feelings as a result of caring for patients who are suffering and dying. Qualified nurses may leave bedside nursing for nonclinical roles, or leave the profession altogether, because of constant exposure to this stress. It is critical that nursing management is perceptive to the particular needs of bereaved nurses to best reintegrate them into their nursing positions.

Extract: Over a span of 18 years, I had the profound misfortune to experience the deaths of two children. In 2007, my oldest daughter Kristen died at the age of 19 years. In 1989, my second child, Lauren, born prematurely, was 14 days old when she died in the neonatal intensive care unit on Mother ‘s Day. After Lauren died, I had a very difficult time returning to my intensive care unit (ICU) staff nurse position….

5. O’Malley, P. (2015, Jan 11). Getting Grief Right. New York Times.

By the time Mary came to see me, six months after losing her daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, she had hired and fired two other therapists. Returning to work had been difficult, but Mary was comfortable with the child-care arrangement, and managed to balance motherhood with her busy professional schedule.

6. Fox, M., Cacciatore, J., & Lacasse, J. R. (2014). Child Death in the United States: Productivity and the Economic Burden of Parental Grief. Death Studies, 38(9), 597-602. doi:10.1080/07481187.2013.820230 [full text]

Department of Economics and Business Administration , Austin College , Sherman , Texas , USA

This article examines the economic consequences associated with the death of a child. The economic costs (funeral and medical expenses and productivity losses) of child death 6 months following the death were estimated based on 213 parents who had experienced the death of a child (usually unexpectedly and predominantly mothers). Findings suggest that productivity losses associated with child death comprise most of the costs and that the economic effects are substantial. Costs associated with on-the-job productivity losses (“presenteeism”) outweigh the costs associated with absenteeism. To date, no research has empirically measured both absenteeism and presenteeism following bereavement.

7. Beaudry, C., & Gagnon, M. (2013). Return to Work During Perinatal Mourning. The Case for Organizational Support. Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations, 68 (3). [Article in French. English summary]

The main objective of this exploratory, empirical study of qualitative nature is to shed light on return to work experience of employees during perinatal mourning. Several studies describe and examine the consequences of perinatal loss among parents, establishing that perinatal loss is different from other types of grief, although the intensity of the pain experienced is as strong. This study seeks to contribute to the field of human resources from a multidisciplinary perspective. While the issue of returning to work after experiencing a perinatal loss links human resources to other fields, current studies available on the subject exclusively tackle the issue from the point of view of psychology and health sciences. This study will therefore enable us to reduce the gap that separates these fields of study. At the moment, the literature in human resources does not focus on the specific issue of perinatal loss in a context of returning to work. In fact, to examine the issue, one must turn to studies concerning the return to work process after other kinds of personal problems. Literature reveals three categories of factors influencing return to work: social, organizational, and individual.

Organizations often underestimate the profound impact of the grief experienced by parents experiencing perinatal loss. When returning to work after the loss of an unborn child or infant, parents are often still in the early stages of the “grieving process” and trying to adapt to this new reality. However, organizations rarely support parents when they return to work during this type of grief. This is why our study targets employee’s experience of return to work during perinatal mourning.

In order to explore these experiences, three discussion groups were held in the province of Quebec with women who lost their unborn child. Content analysis enabled us to conclude that taking a leave of absence after the death of an unborn child or infant, although important, is insufficient in and of itself because adaptation to the loss is not yet complete when returning to work. The factor that appears to be more crucial to a successful return to work is the support provided by organizations through various practices, of which the most important are access to an employee assistance program, to outside help, and to appropriate working arrangements. Finally, this study brings important new insights on an issue often addressed exclusively by other fields and puts forth promising prospects for future studies seeking to broaden and improve the conclusions presented here.

8. Gibson, J., Gallagher, M., & Tracey, A. (2011). Workplace Support for Traumatically Bereaved People. Bereavement Care, 30(2): 10-16. Doi:10.1080/02682621.2011.577998

Northwest Regional College, Derry, Northern Ireland

This paper reports the findings of a study of bereaved parents’ experiences of their return to the workplace following the death of a child to suicide. Six mothers and five fathers aged 44–57 were interviewed about the support provided to them and what they would have found helpful. Their responses suggest organisations need to be more proactive in offering support to traumatically bereaved employees. Organisations should have formal bereavement protocols and policies in place, including access to a named member of staff, and ensure that managers and workers receive training in bereavement awareness and how to support colleagues. Training programmes should be co-delivered or informed by people with personal experience of traumatic bereavement.

9. Gibson, J., Gallagher, M., & Jenkins, M. (2010). The Experiences of Parents Readjusting to the Workplace Following the Death of a Child by Suicide. Death Studies, 34(6): 500-528. doi:10.1080/07481187.2010.482879

Department of Health and Social Care, Northwest Regional College, Derry, Northern Ireland

Suicide among young people has become a growing concern in life in the 21st century and is a tragedy faced by an increasing number of families and in particular parents. This study set out to focus on the experiences of parents reentering the workplace following the death of a child by suicide. Although the immediate aftermath of experiencing traumatic death has been studied, we know less about the longer term effects on life tasks such as returning to work. A sample of bereaved parents was interviewed and their responses thematically analyzed. The three major areas of experience related by parents were social and emotional aspects of readjusting to the workplace, followed by changes in cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning and their changed attitudes toward work and life. Limitations of the study include the transferability of findings to other populations and to less close-knit cultures. The implications for employee adjustment and employers and co-workers’ responses are considered. A fuller picture of adjustment might emerge from future studies that seek to document all parties’ experiences during this period of transition.

10. Hazen, Mary Ann. (2003). Social and Workplace Response to Perinatal Loss : Disenfranchised Grief or Healing Connection. Human Relations, 56 (2): 147-166. doi: 10.1177/0018726703056002889

University of Detroit Mercy

Perinatal loss is a life-altering event for a mother, affecting every aspect of her existence, including her work and career. Fifteen women describe how such loss affected their work and how the responses of others influenced their healing. I consider the effects on grief of silence, disenfranchisement, attachment, trauma, shame, secrecy, and the social context. I note patterns of healing: connection to the self, attachment to the dead child, and linking the self and child to the family and community. Community attachments include those made in the workplace. Relationships at work and work itself can contribute to disenfranchised grief or healing from perinatal loss.

Part 2: The workplace with a grieving colleague

11. Corden, A. (2016). Bereavement and the Workplace. In Foster, L. & Woodthorpe, K. (eds). Death and Social Policy in Challenging Times (pp. 150-167). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, UK

Loss, grief and trauma are challenging issues for modern workplaces, and all are touched in some way by death and bereavement. Thompson (2009) suggested a basic typology of organisations as a framework for helping to understand issues that can arise. First, he grouped together organisations where death is the primary focus of the work, such as hospices and funeral directors, where we might expect some specialist training and development of ways of working (see Bartlett and Riches, 2007). Other groups of workplaces, Thompson suggested, were those where death is a central focus, such as emergency services, and those in which death continually appears, such as health and social care settings. Here, we might expect awareness and at least some provision of support and training (see Papadatou, 2001). All other organisations, Thompson suggested, were affected periodically because they rely on people, and death and bereavement are natural parts of people’s lives. This chapter is written mainly within the perspective of this latter group — the offices, factories, construction sites, retail outlets, services and small businesses that make up the range of general modern workplaces.

12. Keenan, P., & Dermott, C. M. (2016). How Nurses Grieve for Children who Die in their Care. Learning Disability Practice, 19(3), 16-22.

Nurses understand the grieving process…but they manage their grief in different ways.

13. Anderson, R., & Collins, M. L. (2015). Managing Grief and its Consequences at the Workplace. In Patole, S. (ed.). Management and Leadership–A Guide for Clinical Professionals (pp. 283-293). Springer International Publishing. [Find in an Australian library]

Grief is a normal and personal response to loss that all will inevitably experience at some or various points of life. With increasing emphasis on clinical leadership, clinicians (e.g. doctors, nurses) are expected to handle more and more responsibilities including grief. Clinicians confront and/or experience grief on a scale more intense and more frequently than people may normally encounter in life outside a hospital. Historically doctors and nurses are not well equipped for providing skilled grief management, leadership and support. The failure to observe and address this reality may therefore pose a significant risk to the staff member, the grieving person and the organisation. It is thus incumbent upon management to develop a capacity for responding appropriately when this turbulence descends within the workplace. This chapter attempts to contextualise grief and its consequences within the dynamic of the clinical setting. It highlights the importance of recognising the personal but subtle formative shaping through the grief experiences of both the grieving person and the carer or manager; and summarises some core understandings of grief and loss. It is suggested that good grief management within the clinical context, is both a necessity for organisational risk management and for staff care, with potential to enhance the quality or spirit of the workplace.

14. Thompson, N., & Bevan, D. (2015). Death and the Workplace. Illness, Crisis & Loss, 23(3), 211-225. doi: 10.1177/1054137315585445

Avenue Media Solutions, Wrexham, Wales, UK

It is well known that bereavement presents major challenges of adjustment to the individuals so affected, but what is much less well recognized is the major challenges bereavement can present to organizations in general and their managers and human resources professionals in particular. This article explores the significance of death for the workplace and argues that organization that fail to give adequate attention to such matters will be poorly placed when it comes to promoting workplace well-being.

15. Coupland, P. (2014). Engaging Organisations to Support Bereaved Employees. Grief Matters: 17 (1): 18.

Counsellor, Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia

Compelling reasons exist for organisations to plan for and manage grief and bereavement in the workplace. Grief is known to affect an individual’s concentration and decision making and can cause stress and fatigue. Therefore, grief can impact on business activity and workplace dynamics. It has been suggested that loyalty, retention, cohesiveness, business productivity, project continuity and organisational culture are improved when grief is adequately attended to (Charles-Edwards, 2007; Hazen, 2009; McGuiness, 2009). Although research is scarce, bereavement practitioners are active in promoting compassionate and supportive workplaces on the basis that doing so is good for the bereaved employee and, in-turn, good for business (ACGB and TCF, 2014). This project aimed to engage with organisations about workplace grief through the development of training workshops. ‘Employee wellbeing’ and ‘organisational’ perspectives were explored through interviews and these formed the basis of three workshops.

16. McGuiness, B., & Williams, S. (2014). Handling Bereavement in the Workplace–A Guide for Employers. Bereavement Care, 33(3), 111-112. doi:10.1080/02682621.2014.980986

Irish Hospice Foundation

..new Acas guidance for employers on handling bereavement in the workplace… In this article, Brefini McGuiness of the Irish Hospice Foundation discusses the scale of the problem, and Steve Williams, Head of Equality at Acas introduces the main points of the guidance.

17. Sabadash, H., & McKeon, K. (2014). Responding to Grief in the Workplace. In R. Csiernik (ed.) Workplace Wellness: Issues and Responses. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 224. Find in an Australian library

Extract: “Grief is a very personal feeling and individuals carry it differently on their way to work, during work, and returning from work. For example…if a family member dies, going to work may be viewed as a reprieve by some, simply because the workplace has fewer reminders of their grief. Others in a similar situation may be unable to function at work because theor workplace is not perceived to be a supportive environment. This chapter discusses the range of normal grieving in the workplace, barriers to healthy grieving, and supportive approaches for addressing it.”

18. Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement & Compassionate Friends Victoria. (2013?). How to be a Compassionate Employer: Supporting Grieving Employees Following the Death of a Loved One. Ephemera. [Full text]

In an effort to better educate and support workplaces in the area of grief and bereavement, The Compassionate Friends Victoria, in partnership with the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, have developed the following suggestions based on employee’s lived experience of what they have found helpful to help guide and support employers in the development of compassionate policy and practice within organisations.

19. McKenzie, A. M. (2013). Work Goes On: Exploring the Relationship between Grieving and Meaning-making in the Workplace. Thesis, Seattle Pacific University.

The experience of simultaneously grieving and working is a common one, however, few studies have been conducted to examine this interaction, and they primarily highlight work as an impediment to grieving, and grief as an impediment to work. There is some evidence that when coping with grief people will try to make meaning of the loss, which may interact with work, and could lead to positive appraisals of working while grieving. To better understand the experiences of grieving workers and the role of meaning-making as a coping process, an inaugural study was conducted. Using Consensual Qualitative Research, in depth interviews with 15 participants were conducted. All participants had suffered a significant loss within the past 5 years, and all were working full time at the time of loss. Findings provide evidence that people can both work and grieve, and that work, and work relationships may be a comfort after a significant loss. All participants used some form of meaning-making to cope with loss. Meaning was made outside of work that informed work, and meaning was made at work that informed the loss. In some cases, the work itself served as the source from which meaning was drawn and comfort was found, and in some cases work was an outcome, changed or reaffirmed when making sense of the loss. Results indicated that if work is satisfying pre-loss it will likely remain so when grieving. The work itself, and/or the work environment, especially the relationships formed at work, can help people find or repair meaning after the loss. Conversely, relationships at work that fail a grieving employee, and policies that fail an employee, can be the impetus to leave a job. The stories collected in this study open up new perspectives of the way working and grieving are thought about, experienced, and managed. Managers can expect that employees will generally be resilient in the face of loss and a grieving worker can be productive and valuable. For grieving employees work can be a place of comfort and solace, a place where care and purpose lend meaning to the loss.

20. Tehan, M., & Thompson, N. (2013). Loss and Grief in the Workplace: The Challenge of Leadership. OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying, 66(3), 265-280.

Melbourne, Australia

There is no part of human existence that loss and grief do not reach, and the workplace is no exception to this. This article is therefore concerned with some of the implications of loss and grief in work settings in general and for workplace leaders in particular. By way of example, it explores in particular the needs of bereaved caregivers returning to work and the potential for stigma to emerge in relation to employment and bereavement. Central to the article is an argument in favor of the need for change within the workplace, specifically within the structures and systems that support bereaved caregivers returning to work. This article critically reflects on the leadership management challenge of supporting bereaved caregivers returning to, or seeking, work and addressing the problem of stigma in relation to employment and bereavement. Some structural and policy changes are highlighted to assist employers and bereaved caregivers faced with this situation.

21. Sunoo, J. J. M., & Sunoo, B. P. (2012). Managing Workplace Grief—Vision and Necessity. Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal, 2(3), 4. [full text]

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Office of International and Dispute Resolution. Authors are bereaved parents.

In the course of offering workplace expertise, the FMCS has also presented its workshop “Managing Grief in the Workplace.” The trainings have been given at local, regional, national and international labor relations and mediation conferences, and in college settings. We have found great receptivity to this cutting edge topic. Support in this area can greatly help unions and companies work through the conflicting expectations of a bereaved employee’s job performance. Workshops in “Managing Grief in the Workplace” can initiate needed discussions and helping the partners to set up compassionate and realistic bereavement policies in the workplace. Finally, many participants expressed how relieved they were to finally have the subject of grief at the workplace “legitimized.”

22. Trimble, B. (2010). An Exploratory Study of Grief in the Workplace: What do Employers Need to Know? B.A, (Hons) Thesis, Dublin Business School. [full text]

Despite the inevitability of death and the high probability that most, if not all of us, will experience a loss through the death of a close blood relation, spouse, partner, friend, neighbour or work colleague, a person’s grief can often be overlooked, especially in the workplace. This study sets out to explore what grief entails and how the experiences of bereaved individuals in the workplace in relation to the supports they receive and their unique grief responses can help employers understand and support their employees better. It is suggested that when an organisation is aware of the impact of grief on employees and promotes a culture of sensitivity and understanding to those bereaved that it can help employees to better come to terms with their grief. Eighteen female and nine male employees within a national organisation who were bereaved and who returned to the workplace following their loss completed a bespoke questionnaire. The findings provide insight into their unique experiences of the loss of a loved one; the responses and supports of their colleagues, managers and the organisation; and their grief reactions. It explores the impact of their loss in relation to social, financial and domestic elements and discovers what helped most and what helped least in facilitating them to come to terms with their loss. It is intended that the research will bring awareness to organisations of the impact of grief on individuals, and to inform „best practice‟ in policy development for organisations who wish to find more effective ways to support grieving employees.

23. Bath, D. M. (2009). Predicting Social Support for Grieving Persons: A Theory of Planned Behavior Perspective. Death Studies, 33(10), 869-889. doi:10.1080/07481180903251547

School of Psychology, Griffith University , Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Research has consistently reported that social support from family, friends, and colleagues is an important factor in the bereaved person’s ability to cope after the loss of a loved one. This study used a Theory of Planned Behavior framework to identify those factors that predict a person’s intention to interact with, and support, a grieving person. Questionnaire data from 160 university students showed that together behavioral, normative, and control beliefs and past behavior significantly predicted intention after controlling for gender and past experience. Behavioral beliefs, followed by control beliefs and past behavior, were the most important predictors of intention to support a grieving person.

“One particular context in which an intervention strategy could usefully be conducted is the workplace, the place where we typically spend most of our waking hours. In fact, recent research has turned attention to grief in the workplace (Barski-Carrow, 1998; Eyetsemitan, 1998; Palmer, 2004; Thompson, 2001), highlighting that the cost of grief to workplaces is great. It has been estimated that at least 16% of workers in any year will experience a personal loss, and that grief costs business billions of dollars a year in terms of decreased productivity (Bento, 1994; Eyetsemitan, 1998). According to Bento, many workers simply receive “an awkward pat on the back” and are expected to just get over it (p. 35). Doka (1989) coined the term disenfranchised grief to refer to grief that is experienced by bereaved persons when their loss is not socially legitimate or sanctioned, and not openly acknowledged or publicly shared. However, Eyetsemitan (1998), went beyond the kind of losses originally discussed by Doka and argued that stifled grief is “any recognized grief denied its full course” (p. 470) focussing on the workplace as one such context in which this grief is likely to exist. The consequences of this inhibited grieving are potentially great—the usual symptoms of grief become exacerbated, the usual cycle of grief may become more complex and severe with the risk of delaying or extending the grief, making the process more painful and difficult, initiating the development of other psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression, or all of these combined (Doka, 1989). Disenfranchised or stifled grief can therefore become a mental health problem for our communities with even greater economic, and social, costs than those incurred by workplace organizations. Therefore, attempts to change the beliefs held by potential supporters regarding interacting with a grieving person, as well as their own sense of self-efficacy and control over engaging in supportive behaviors could have both economic and social benefits for our communities.”

24. Berthod, M-A. (2009). Bereaved Employees, Professional Activity and Pain of Loss. In D. Cooley & S. Lloyd (eds.), Re-Imaging Death and Dying: Global Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Oxford, Inter-Disciplinary Press. [full text]

University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland

When a close relative dies, what kind of relations do individuals professionally active have with their colleagues at the workplace? How do they live their return at work? Based on a research carried out with various actors (directors, heads of human resources, employees, trade unionists, work inspectors, psychologists and social workers) in about twenty medium-sized and big companies of the French-speaking part of the canton of Valais, Switzerland, this paper tries to answer these questions following an anthropological approach. It presents how the bereaved employees perceive the way their firms rationalize - or do not rationalize - the announcement of death; organize their participation to the funerary rituals; welcome them after their bereavement leave; manage the temporality of bereavement in their structure. It focuses on the experiences of the bereaved employees in order to better understand the influence of the social and professional context on the grieving process at the workplace.

25. Charles-Edwards, David. (2009). Empowering People at Work in the Face of Death and Bereavement. Death Studies, 33 (5): 420-236. doi: 10.1080/07481180902805632

Charles-Edwards, Woolfe & Associates, Rugby, UK

How people respond at work may have a critical part to play in how bereaved or terminally ill colleagues manage their grief and their lives. Although counselors, human resources, occupational health staff, and others may have an important back-up role to play, pivotal support needs to come from line managers, colleagues, and, where they exist, trade union or other staff representatives. If bereavement is seen exclusively as a specialist area, managers and others can be discouraged and feel disabled from intelligently supporting the staff with whom they work. Alternatively it can be a reason for ignoring the issue. A workplace culture is needed where people are inspired and empowered to be human and humane for the sake of the motivation and indirectly the effectiveness of the people who work there.

26. Coupland, P. & Raphael, B. Editorial. Grief Matters: The Australian Journal of Grief and Bereavement, 12 ( 3): 59.

Bereavement Counsellor & Organisational Consultant, NSW, Australia

Extract: Given the central role work plays in all our lives, in all its various paid and unpaid forms, it is inevitable that we will experience both our own and others’ grief and bereavement whilst at work. For some, work may be the cause of their grief. For others, it may provide respite from their grief. For all, the actual experience and role work plays will be as varied and different as are the expressions of grief. Given the many known reactions and effects of grief, employers have at least a duty of care to ensure employee safety…

27. McGuinness, B. (2009). Grief in the Workplace: Developing a Bereavement Policy. Bereavement Care, 28(1), 2-8. doi: 10.1080/02682620902746037

Irish Hospice Foundation , Dublin, Ireland

What do workplaces do when an employee is bereaved? What, if any, support and special provision do they make? The Irish Hospice Foundation surveyed 34 Irish organisations to explore their policies and procedures for supporting bereaved employees. While all the organisations had experienced employee-related bereavement in the previous 12 months, only four had any kind of formal, written policy. The majority made some kind of provision for compassionate leave, but this varied widely, and decisions about further leave and support were sometimes left to line managers’ discretion. This article outlines the key findings from the survey and suggests a template that could be adapted by workplaces to provide a clear and consistent bereavement policy that would benefit the organisation, line managers and the individual employee alike.

28. Thompson, Neil. (2009). Loss and Grief in the Workplace. In Neil Thompson. Loss, Grief and Trauma in the Workplace (pp 27-46). Baywood Publishing. [Find in an Australian library]

“Death-related losses outside the workplace will of course include any death. This could be the death of a partner, a child, a friend, other family member, a neighbor or other significant person or persons. It is, of course, not possible for people to leave major losses outside when they turn up for work. While some degree of separation of work and wider aspects of life is to be expected, it would be naive and unrealistic to expect one’s reaction to a major loss to be “put on hold” while at work. Although many people find it helpful, even therapeutic up to a point, to immerse themselves in work tasks when they are grieving (as it helps to establish some sense of normality in a situation that is perhaps otherwise characterized by a high degree of insecurity and uncertainty), expecting events outside of work not to affect them is not an approach grounded in reality. While work tasks can certainly be experienced as a comforting counterbalance to a welter of confusion, there can still be problems if the significance of grief is not fully appreciated.”

29. Dyregrov, K., & Dyregrov, A. (2008). The Workplace. In Effective Grief and Bereavement Support: The Role of Family, Friends, Colleagues, Schools and Support Professionals (pp 186-199). London, GBR: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. [Find in an Australian library]

30. Hazen, Mary Ann. (2008). Grief and the Workplace. Academy of Management Perspectives, 22 (3): 78-86.

Professor of Management in the College of Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy

The purpose of this paper is to increase understanding about grief and its possible effects in the workplace. I describe approaches that psychologists and social scientists take to understand the grieving process from the point of view of the griever, look at how work organizations respond to grieving employees, show how members of organizations collude in the denial of grief or cooperate to support healing from loss, indicate how work itself can help a person heal from a loss, and suggest ways that managers can respond to grieving employees when organization policies and practices support them in doing so.

31. Maxim, Sandra L. & Mackavey, Maria G. (2005). Best Practices Regarding Grief and the Workplace. Journal of American Academy of Business, 6 (1): 110-116.

Lesley University, Cambridge, MA

This paper explores employer and employee practices and opinions around bereavement in the workplace. In doing so, current trends among employers were analyzed regarding employee bereavement benefits, as were employee attitudes towards time-off policies and workplace sensitivity to the issue.

32. Jeffries, J. S. (2005). Helping an Employee in a Grief Reaction. In J. Shep Jeffreys. Coping with Workplace Grief: Dealing with Loss, Trauma and Change (pp 70-73). Boston, MA: Course Technology. [Find in an Australian library]

The losses we experience are seldom ones we have control over. Changes in the workplace, such as … the death or serious illness of a loved one or a co-worker, affect our morale and productivity. If you are coping with major changes in your life, you may be feeling pain, anger, or fear—and that’s perfectly normal. COPING WITH WORKPLACE GRIEF shows you that you are not alone, and that grieving is not a sign of weakness or a bad attitude. Not only are you allowed to grieve, you can, and should, ask for help. This book can be your first step in the healing process… If you are helping a grieving person cope, this book offers techniques to help you give this person support. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no timetable for mourning. But you can find the courage to get through. This book will show you how.

33. Lattanzi-Licht, (2002). Grief and the Workplace: Positive Approaches. In Kenneth J Doka. Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice (pp. 167-180). Research Press, Champaign, Ill. [Find in an Australian library]

Extract: “in the workplace, the traditional standard of leaving personal concerns at home is one that can create a sense of disconnection or isolation for employees experiencing a major loss.”

34. Charles-Edwards, D. Bereavement at Work: A Practical Guide. London: Duckworth, 2000. [Find in an Australian library]

Chapters include: Is it any of our business? | How the organisation can help | How people in different roles at work can help | Helping the bereaved person at work

Appendices include: A checklist for colleagues: when a bereaved person returns to work

35. Charles-Edwards, D. (2005) Handling Death and Bereavement at Work. Routledge. [Find in an Australian library]

An estimated 3,500 people die every day in the UK. If someone at work or their partner or close family member dies, managers and colleagues need to respond appropriately. This book breaks new ground in placing bereavement on the management agenda. It addresses some challenging questions such as:

What to say and what not to say?

How to balance the needs of the person and the job?

How do you get it right in a diverse, multi-cultural workforce?

How do you decide what time off is reasonable?

How can other people at work help, as well as avoiding making the situation worse?

This book is an essential guide for anyone in an organisation who has to take responsibility in the event of death. It covers issues such as what do in the event of a sudden death at work, managing staff who are terminally ill, and practical help after death including funerals. It is a unique and constant point of reference for anyone concerned with one of the most challenging issues to be faced in the workplace.

36. Quan, J., & Wadsworth, M. (2000). Bereavement support. The Occupational Health Nurse’s Role when Death comes to Work. AAOHN Journal, 48(10), 461–469.

Alcatel USA, Plano, TX, USA

  1. Providing bereavement support for grieving employees can positively impact their adjustment and productivity. 2. Good bereavement care follows the nursing process approach: assessment, analysis, planning (goal setting), intervention/implementation, and evaluation. It acknowledges the five dimension of optimal health, and incorporates them into the nursing process. 3. The occupational health nurse, as clinician and advisor, can provide care to the bereaved individual and guidance to the manager and coworkers about the grief process and how to interact with the grieving employee. 4. Grief work is necessary for healing. The occupational health nurse can play a valuable role in facilitating the work by offering clinical support, a “safe” place for the grieving employee to talk about the death, referrals to the Employee Assistance Program or other professional support, and education about the process.

37. Shellenbarger, S. (1999). Some Readers Offer Thoughts on Helping Grieving Colleagues. The Wall Street Journal, 20 January, p. B1.

Presents responses from readers of `The Wall Street Journal’ to an article, which appeared regarding how grieving can affect an employee. How the reaction of bosses and co-workers can affect the grieving process; Comments from Michael Snizek, a systems specialist at Merrill Lynch; The grieving process as a catalyst for major career changes; Need for manager training to address the issue of how to handle employees who have experienced the death of a loved one.

38. Shellenbarger, S. (1999). A Workplace can seem Cold and Indifferent to a Grieving Employee. The Wall Street Journal, 13 January, p. B1.

Reports on the difficulties employees can have at work while grieving the death of someone close. Experience of Deborah DeVito, a former employee of Public Service Co. of New Mexico, and how her boss reacted to her grief; The need for counseling during the grieving process; Emotional problems employees may face while grieving.

39. Eyetsemitan, F. (1998). Stifled Grief in the Workplace. Death Studies, 22(5): 469–79. doi: 10.1080/074811898201461

Psychology Department, McKendree College, Lebanon, IL, USA

Organizations, by allowing time off for funerals and expecting their bereaved employees to resume full - blown responsibilities immediately afterwards, promote stifled grief (i.e., any recognized grief denied its full course). Preliminary data gathered from 145 participants; 67% women and 33% men, with ages ranging from 18 - 65 years (M = 30 . 96 years), suggest the presence of stifled grief. Stifled grief could have adverse consequences on worker’s mental health and workplace productivity. Therefore, suggestions are made on how organizations could better manage employee grief.

40. Smith, A.L. (1997). Coping with Death and Grief at Work. Ivey Business Quarterly, 62: 20–1.

Presents information pertaining to personnel management while looking at coping with grief on the job. Reference to suggestions from Barbara Moore and Dennis Williams of Grief Encounters; Information on the book `Death in the Workplace: Workers and Managers Dealing with Grief,’ by Moore and Williams; Where additional information may be obtained.

41. Jeffries, J. S. (1995). Helping an Employee in a Grief Reaction. In J. Shep Jeffreys. Coping with Workplace Change: Dealing with Loss and Grief (pp 70-73). Menlo Park, CA, USA: Course Technology / Cengage Learning. [Find in an Australian library]

42. Bento, R.R. (1994). When the Show must go On: Disenfranchised Grief in Organizations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 9(6): 35–44.

Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore, Maryland, USA.)

Examines the relationship between “grief work” and “work life”. When, after a major personal loss, we re-enter the world of work, we become involved in the complex process of trying to combine two types of role: our role as grievers, and our work role. The two are often found to be incompatible, and grief becomes disenfranchised, with important consequences for the organization and for the individual as a spiritual, physical and social being. Starts by discussing the conditions necessary for the normal resolution of grief, and what happens when the process of grief cannot be freely experienced, thus stunting the resolution process. Proposes a theoretical model which uses the analytical tools of role theory to understand the interplay of grief work and work life in organizations. Finally, discusses the implications of this study for theory and practice.

43. Stein, A.J. & Winokuer, H.R. (1989). Monday Mourning: Managing Employee Grief. In K. Doka (Ed.): Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow (pp. 91–102). New York: Lexington Books. [Find in an Australian library]

“7.5 million people [in the USA] per year face some form of grief because of death. Since half of that number is employed, it is easy to see the enormous effect grief has on the business environment…Bereavement following a loss is often a devastating experience. A grieving person is…[often] unable to function within acceptable limits at the workplace. The individual’s productivity may be significantly affected…Managers must also understand the time frame of grief. It all too often has a tendency to show up long after the employee is expected to have learned to cope or adjust to his or her loss. It is not strange for a grieving individual to be hardest hit by grief six to nine months after the initial death. Employers need to understand that grief takes time…”

Last reviewed: 4/7/20