Child loss and the work place

Lateness, poor performance and sickness are matters which occur in the workplace and can be addressed by established procedures.

But what would you do if this behaviour was a reaction to the death of a child?

Child loss in western society has mostly been a taboo subject outside child loss and related organisations. Employees will talk about becoming pregnant or the achievements of their older children. If this child dies, then the conversation ends, and certain behaviours may be presented in the workplace.

Some of the reactions to the death of a child (or another loved one) include:

• Those mentioned above

• PHYSICAL. Headaches, feeling tired, achy muscles and nausea

• EMOTIONAL. Depressions, anger, sadness, and occasional outburst

• MENTALLY. Forgetfulness, lack of concentration, confusion and poor memory

• BEHAVIOURALLY. Changes in sleep patterns, lack of appetite, isolation, unusual reactions (i.e. breaking down whilst listening to a certain song as this may remind them of the loved one who has died).

These reactions are not deliberate, planned and often not avoidable.

What can the employer do?

If you do not have an established policy and procedure for supporting your employees after the death of a child, or other loved one, then consider establishing them and letting your work force know that you have one.

A compassionate and supportive approach shows that an employer values their employees’- The right support at the right time can signicantly and positively impact on a bereaved parent and can lessen the impact their loss has in the work place.

ACAS have recognised that managing bereavement in the work place is a matter which needs attention and have put together a good practice guide.