WW76 January 2, 2019: Grieving Employees Need Options Too​

Wednesday Wisdom Series January 2, 2019: Grieving Employees Need Options Too
Wednesday Wisdom Header
                                                               January 2, 2019

Here is your Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance Foundation,
reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of traumatic
loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written and
copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D., and distributed by the Family
Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., www.fafonline.org.
Reprint is available with written permission from the Foundation. If the formatting of 
this email is incorrect, please scroll down and select "Click to view this email in a 

                  Grieving Employees Need Options Too
Wednesday Wisdom Heart 

In order to provide additional educational and training resources to our followers
in 2019, WW will be offered the first Wednesday of each month. The date of the 
next WW will be Feburary 6, 2019.

“My employer was really good to me after my husband died in the crash. I
took the paid bereavement leave, and that helped me have time for planning
the funeral and getting my kids back to college after the services. And then,
I had to go back to work. One of my co-workers told me that before I came
back, management met with my department and told everyone to help me
all they could—and that leadership would support this. Knowing this
encouraged me to try harder. Some days all I could do was cry, but I came
to work because I did not want to be alone, and I was so grateful to have a
paycheck. People covered for me on days I was barely making it. Before
I knew it, I could get through the day without breaking down. It took a while,
but within a few months, I was pretty much able to give 100% to my employer

-A family survivor whose husband died in an airline crash

We have written many articles about grief and the losses surrounding trauma.
This article resulted from recent discussions with many of our colleagues who are
concerned about employees who are grieving the deaths of co-workers and family
members while trying to work. Because grief is part of every life, and indeed an
important topic within the scope of our work at the Foundation, we decided to draw
attention to the essential nature of leadership's philosophy toward employees who
are grieving at work. 
Most organizations have a bereavement policy including leave for employees
whose loved ones have died. While having time off to take care of necessary plans,
and other business associated with the death of a family member can prove helpful
since the grieving process takes longer than a few days—time off alone will not
suffice. Interviews with employees who felt their leadership provided effective
support during their grief, like the opening quote, afforded them far more than
time off for a funeral. We believe that creating an environment of support and
offering employees options for finding help in numerous areas is necessary for the
best result. 
While having a guiding policy is necessary, circumstances for each employee
should be taken into consideration. For example, immediate leave of absence for
an employee whose family has experienced a traumatic loss— as the following
example will illustrate, may not be ideal. In 2002, Washington, DC was being
terrorized by two snipers who randomly killed a total of 16 people. I was
conducting a family assistance team training for an airline when a human resources
executive came in and told one of the employees that her cousin had been shot and
left in critical condition, apparently by the sniper. The executive said the team
member needed to go home at once. The employee expressed that she did not want
to leave the class and began to cry. 
The employee wanted to complete her training with her roommates who were also
in the class. She felt frightened to travel alone under the circumstances and was
upset that she was not being told what to do, despite her sense of safety. I
listened to her reasoning, and while it was not my decision, I could see that
she felt more connected and safer with her roommates. While she cared deeply
for her cousin, she regarded her two roommates as her support system. She was
concerned about feeling isolated from those in her age group if she went home,
and was fearful that no one in her family would have the energy to support her.
Many employees, grieving or not, find their emotional support and connection in the
workplace. This need is particularly relevant within the workgroups of Foundation
corporate members where employees work away from home for days, weeks and
sometimes months. For many, their co-workers become their family. And in some
cases, the family at home is dependent on the money earned by the one working
away from home. While providing time off can be helpful and even necessary,
being away from workplace friends and colleagues, along with the loss of wages
suggests the need for a closer look at what a company offers to a specific bereaved

Wednesday Wisdom Head

"Looking back now, if management had handled things differently, I
probably would have lost my job. Without my husband's income, I needed to
work, and my bosses’ support of me made it possible. I became a better,
more dedicated employee, as a result of my leadership's understanding of
my grief.

-A family survivor whose husband died in an airline crash

In the Foundation's Human Services Response™ (HSR) Training, we emphasize
providing primary and family survivors' choices at every opportunity as a way of
helping them regain power lost during the crisis. We believe that employees need
that same consideration. The Foundation's work began with the goal of supporting
member organizations when tragedy strikes in the workplace–by assisting them
in their support of all who are impacted. While most think about large-scale
tragedies, every disaster involves personal losses and people with individual
needs. As we have pointed out many times, loss of one family member is a disaster
to that family.
In the success story cited in this article, the survivor learned that leadership at the
top of the organization set the tone for how her line manager, supervisor, and
colleagues responded to her. She thanked those whom she could, but her
real gratitude was shown by her outstanding performance as an employee
the remaining years of her career. She also experienced more than a few times
where she carried part of another employee's workload while they did their best
in the initial phases of grief.
Providing support for bereaved employees starts at the top with leadership
expressing their philosophy. Line managers and supervisors can help by informing
employees of services that are available such as the employee assistance program,
legal aid, local social services programs, and bereavement leave, along with
other specific needs where possible. Equally important is the education of
supervisors and managers about different types of losses, and tasks associated
with grief resolution and mourning. Encouraging group leaders to consider individual
differences and specific needs of employees is critical to creating an
environment where employees feel supported during inevitable losses in their
lives. As many leaders can attest, it is an investment that has a long-term return.

© 2018 Higher Resources, Inc./Aviem International, Inc.
Wednesday Wisdom footer

Click to view this email in a browser

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line or simply click on the following link: Unsubscribe

Aviem & Family Assistance Foundation
555 North Point Center East, Suite 400
Alpharetta, GA 30022

Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!