Comforting a grieving parent

Life Lessons

Comforting a grieving parent

Losing a baby at any stage of a pregnancy or during the first weeks of life is devastating. Sadly, about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States each year.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to show compassion to parents who have a lost a child, share resources, and raise awareness.

Grief can manifest itself in different ways, making it virtually impossible to recognize how a person who has suffered this type of loss will feel. In the workplace, a grieving employee may find it difficult to ask for help.

Here are 4 suggestions on how to support colleagues:

Offer condolences

At an appropriate time, call or email to acknowledge the loss. Let them know you are there when they are ready to talk. Each person is different; some may want to get back to work and keep busy while others may need more time to process their emotions.

Share available resources

Point employees to available resources. Postpartum Support International, Star Legacy Foundation and Share are a few organizations. If the company has one, guide the employee to an Employee Assistance Program or other mental health support programs. Unum’s Behavioral Health Solution delivers a web portal that will guide the worker to the support that is right for them, including access to a licensed therapist, coach and a library of mental health resources.    

Listen

Take the time to listen and be flexible with an employee’s needs and return to work. It may take some time before they are ready to return to their regular hours. Create a safe and sympathetic environment if the employee wants to share their feelings. The full impact of a loss may not be felt for some time after the death. Grief can appear around the holidays; remain conscious of these events and remain compassionate.

Create bereavement policy

If your company does not have a bereavement policy, create one. It should include bereavement leave, separate from paid time off. Currently, there is not a federal law that requires employers to provide bereavement leave to employees, so each state may establish its own rules and limitations.

Bereavement guide helps with grieving process

Unum U.K. partnered with Child Bereavement UK to create a bereavement guide to help employees and employers navigate through the complex grieving process.

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