Following National Grief Awareness Week 2023, caba, a charity supporting ICAEW chartered accountants, has offered some insights from one of its financial and mental wellbeing experts, Paul Day.

Day emphasises the overlooked nature of grief in the workplace and suggests prioritising self-care after loss, and explains how to get third-party support. He advises navigating grief’s fluctuations, sharing challenges with teams, and fostering empathy.

He further urges employers to create safe spaces, be flexible, and understand diverse experiences. His key message: “Grief in the workplace is about cultivating understanding, empathy, and genuine care.”

Expanding on this, Day said: “Grief is an intricate and often overlooked emotion, not only in the workplace but also in social contexts due to its challenging and uncomfortable nature. Paradoxically, this discomfort underscores the urgency of discussing grief, particularly in the workplace, where a significant portion of our lives are spent.

“After a significant loss, coping can be emotionally and physically demanding. Be patient with yourself and prioritise nutrition, rest, and staying connected with loved ones, and consider reaching out for professional support available through your workplace.  

“If you’re an ICAEW member facing bereavement, our community has tools and resources to assist you in these challenging times. Alternatively, you can reach out to caba for free, confidential advice from our non-judgemental support team.

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“Accepting that grief fluctuates daily is the first step. Immerse yourself in work for a sense of purpose on the days when it feels right, but grant yourself the freedom to step back when needed. If you feel comfortable, share your priorities and challenges with your team; this will help foster understanding and an environment where others can support you.

“Employers and HR teams should aim to create a safe space for open conversations, fostering empathy and understanding without judgment. Ensure that all line managers are well-informed about available support services and encourage employees to seek help in an empathetic, non-judgemental way. All business leaders must understand and acknowledge that people’s experiences with grief are diverse. Therefore, handling these situations must be tailored. 

“Teams should allow employees to navigate grief at their own pace and, if possible, be flexible with working hours or locations. While bereavement leave is fundamental, it’s just the beginning of the grief journey.

“Ultimately, grief in the workplace is more than just policies; it’s about cultivating an environment of understanding, empathy, and genuine care. Let’s continue this conversation and create workplaces where mental wellbeing is a top priority.”