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Let’s talk about suicide

Let’s talk about suicide

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Early experience of suicide When I was 13, a relative took his own life.  I was too young then to appreciate the full impact of losing someone in this manner. Sadly, I now know too many friends and colleagues who have been affected by bereavement due to suicide. Suicide is very often a tragic waste of a life.  It is different to a loss where someone is ill or dies due to circumstances such as an accident.  The individual has chosen to take their own life.  The loved ones grieving for that individual can face an even more complex response to grief than those of us who lose people because of reasons such as ill health. Emotional responses to suicide Firstly, there is often massive guilt associated with the loss,…
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Compassionate support is a gift

Compassionate support is a gift

Readers Stories
This week we have another reader's story. She discusses her father's death and how compassionate support at work was an invaluable gift. Professional and ambitious Like any other ambitious twenty something, I loved life.  I had worked (and played) extremely hard to get myself into a position where I was thriving.  The future looked bright and I felt a real sense of purpose that I was going to get to wherever it was I wanted to go.  I was proving my worth and soaking up skills and knowledge like a sponge.  I had blossomed into the independent, professional woman I had always wanted to be. From the age of 25, however, I lived with a dark personal truth lurking in the background.  A dark and heavy suitcase I knew at…
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Loss of confidence

Loss of confidence

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Being adrift I have been reflecting on why it is that often our confidence goes when we are bereaved. For me, I realised that the people and things that are important in my life (such as health, home and job) act like a network of anchors to ground me in times when the waters get rough in life. They are the props that keep me afloat that I take for granted on a day to day basis. Take away any one of them and the slightest of ripples can throw me off my equilibrium; take away a main anchor and I am adrift, no longer sure of my destination. Metaphors aside, when we ‘lose’ someone we love we not only have to come to terms that they are gone forever…
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Business as usual

Business as usual

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Back to work You’ve returned to work after your bereavement and a few months have passed by. You may still be in a phase where you’re functioning rather than performing, you’re certainly not at peak performance, but to those around you it’s business as usual.  And why wouldn’t it be? After all, at work we all have duties and responsibilities. It’s no wonder then, that after a while your colleagues will carry on as they have before and start to behave in a way in which, for them, they have moved on from your bereavement. I know that’s an unusual way of phrasing what happens, but those with emotional intelligence will adjust their behaviour and after a while, when you seem to be mainly coping, they will return to their…
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Why I think bereavement policies are flawed

Why I think bereavement policies are flawed

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In this week's post, we explore an aspect of an organisation's culture that could be improved, as touched upon in our Managing People section. Why I think bereavement policies are flawed ‘How much time can I have off?’ is one of the most searched for questions on the internet when a person suffers a bereavement, so - don’t get me wrong, I believe it is essential to have bereavement/compassionate leave policies in place to provide guidance to employees and managers regarding time off at a time of loss. However, I do think that in reality the amount of time taken off by individuals comes down to management discretion and initial handling of the bereavement. We know that grief is a very individual experience and that some individuals will want to…
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Coaching or counselling?

Coaching or counselling?

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What’s the best approach? I have been asked questions such as ‘What’s the difference between coaching and counselling?’ and ‘We offer counselling – why would we need to offer coaching?’ so it’s clear that there is some uncertainty around how to best use these two approaches for support. It’s not really a case of either/or. Counselling is particularly effective when individuals are having difficulty coming to terms with their bereavement, when they are overwhelmed by the feelings that they may encounter going through the stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, or feelings such as guilt and remorse. Coaching has a workplace focus Whilst bereavement counselling will help individuals in general cope with everyday life better, counsellors are not, in the main, focusing on improving workplace performance. Coaching has a specific…
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Why good management matters

Why good management matters

Featured
This week's blog has been written by a guest writer who has shared their story and discusses why good management matters for the bereaved. Unexpected events In 2007 I was emerging from the shock of an unexpected divorce after being with my husband for over 20 years. On the brink of turning 40, I was coming to terms with the fact that the future I had planned and expected would now be a very different one. I went through a pattern of emotions similar to those experiencing bereavement - shock, denial, anger, and eventually acceptance. In the immediate aftermath, this felt like the worst thing that could happen in my life. However, 18 months later my Mum, to whom I was very close, and aged only 65, was diagnosed with…
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A form of depression

A form of depression

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A phase of grief Depression is a perfectly normal phase of grief. Without getting into the technical definitions of what depression is, and without wanting to offend those who suffer from severe or chronic depression, my ‘depression’ took the form of an extended period of feeling extremely sad. Naturally, if you lose someone you care about and are grieving, you are going to experience a range of emotions and these will come and go. Significant dates were triggers For me, I had been grieving for ten months before I can identify that the depression phase of grieving had arrived. It lasted three months, triggered by Christmas, my mother’s birthday falling in January, and the anniversary of her death in February. It sneaked up on me and before I knew it…
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Grief feels like a lonely place

Grief feels like a lonely place

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Are you alright? I was clearing the snow from my drive in January when an old colleague walked by who I didn’t know very well. We had the customary exchange of ‘Are you alright’, but it turned out that she wasn’t: her father had just passed away. A few things struck me about our ensuing conversation. My colleague and I had never had a particularly long conversation in the time that we worked for the same company, but on this occasion she really wanted to talk about what happened, even though it was actually snowing and very cold. First lesson about grief It made me recall a time when I was in my 30s, working with a younger colleague whose partner had died, and my first lesson about grief. She…
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Coping with grief at work

Coping with grief at work

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Coping with grief at work is difficult I had a very supportive workplace so my work became a prop, an emotional crutch to help me cope with the death of my mother. It enabled me to continue to have some stability in my life and to have an avenue where I could be something other than bereaved. It gave me a daily focus and a structure to an otherwise alien place. So how did I cope? Well, the truth is I didn’t all the time, and not many of us will, but a few things may help you if you're grieving and trying to continue to work. A few fundamental things Be prepared for people to say they are sorry to hear about your loss Supportive as it is, it…
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