Grief and Loss in the Workplace
We offered this webinar on May 16, 2019.
The Goal of This Webinar
To enable participants to understand the unique grief and loss experience of the healthcare professional and other support staff, to learn about current theoretical paradigms for understanding grief and mourning, and to provide participants helpful tips on managing grief and loss in the workplace.
What Attendees Learned at This Webinar
- In normal grief, we typically see physical, cognitive and behavioral manifestations of grief in addition to an emotional reaction. With complicated grief, however, these normal feelings, thoughts and behaviors generally become more intense, are longer lasting, and interfere with the mourner’s normal functioning and quality of life.
- Our understanding about grief has shifted considerably in the last 20 years, moving from a stage-based theoretical framework to newer models that imagine the grief process to be more cyclical in nature. This new approach suggests that a mourner typically alternates between emotional expression of the loss and social adaptation to the loss. Another model suggests that instead of total detachment, the mourner may be better served by “reincorporating” the image and memories of the deceased into their life.
- Our culture tends to treat grief like we treat having a bad cold: We take a few days off from work and are expected to return ready to perform. The reality is that grief can have a considerable impact on work performance, including higher incidence of injury, increased use of mood-altering substances and reduced concentration.
- Healthcare professionals are especially vulnerable to workplace grief, as they use the “self” more than other industry professionals by relating to and experiencing the suffering of vulnerable patients. Like other professionals, they experience a variety of personal losses, but additionally—especially in the case of healthcare professionals who work with the terminally ill—might also lose patients they have cared for.
- There are many ways that the grieving worker can be supported. Routine self-care, the establishment of support networks in and out of the workplace, company-endorsed memorial ceremonies and other workplace care services are just some of those ways.