The Cost of Dying Report

beyond bereavement leave Mar 03, 2024

Whether you're the employer trying to support your team or an employee grappling with loss while trying to maintain productivity, grieving a death at work is TOUGH recently conducted a nationwide survey and published the Cost of Dying Report, which sheds light on the impact of grief in the workplace. We want to dive into their report to offer you, the Grieve Leave community,  valuable insights for anyone who is or will be grieving at work or managing someone who is grieving at work (sorry, that’s probably every single one of you).

One important note: At Grieve Leave, we recognize that grief extends beyond the death of a loved one, like divorce or a medical diagnosis–  and all of that grief intersects with our work experiences. Yet, there's a dearth of research on this intersection. The topic covered in this blog post is death-related grief at work, yet we acknowledge there is much more to be learned about non-death grief’s impact on our workplaces, too. 


Before we dive deeper, let's clarify some key terms:

Executor: A person named in a will or appointed by a court to manage the deceased person's estate, ensuring that their wishes are carried out. This often involves handling legal and financial matters, such as distributing assets and paying debts, and other logistics.

Bereavement Leave: A period of paid time off granted to employees following the death of a close family member.

Top  Takeaways if You're Grieving at Work:
Navigating grief and logistics after a death while holding down a job is a feat in itself. Here's a breakdown of what you're up against and how to tackle it:

  1. Your time is impacted when you’re grieving. Grieving employees reported spending at least a year on logistics following the death of their loved one, such as financial and legal matters. For executors of estates, that time jumped to 18 months. 

    Grief is like having a part time job you probably didn't choose- and communication about that extra work load is key. Remember: There are still only 24 hours in a day, even though time can feel weird when you’re grieving. Set boundaries to protect your time outside of work, and communicate with your manager about how you’re setting those boundaries. 

  2. Grief can take a toll on how you feel about work. Feeling like you're not firing on all cylinders at work? You're not alone. 

    Nearly 70% of executors reported that their work was impacted by the roles they had to play after the death, and the vast majority of them reported emotional and physical impacts (78%, and 93% respectively.) 

    You’re not bad at your job– you’re not weak. You’re grieving, and you’re likely managing a substantial amount of logistics, on top of that.  not a weakness—it's just the heavy weight of grief. Communicate openly with your supervisor about your struggles and explore accommodations or adjustments that could alleviate some of the pressure, like breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks that help you set more reasonable goals for the time being. 


Top Takeaways if You're an Employer of Someone Grieving at Work:

  1. Employees want and need more workplace support to manage their work life and their grief life after a death. Yet, only 43% of companies surveyed offer additional support beyond basic leave for grieving employees.

    The status quo on paid leave for grieving employees isn’t meeting needs, across the board. A variety of accommodations and staff training can make a significant difference in supporting employees during a challenging.time– and will probably help your workplace be more welcoming, all around, whether someone is grieving or not.

    Your workplace can build a stronger bereavement policy.
    Moreover, many workplaces report that they have no policies at all on what to do when an employee faces the death of a loved one. Among managers who reported having an employee who was facing a loss, over half of them shared that seeing how everything played out led them to reconsider the grief policies and support offered at their company.

No matter the size of your workforce, someone will experience the death of a loved one at some point. Before that happens, it’s in your interest to establish a comprehensive grief support program that includes flexible work arrangements and access to grief support services, to retain your employees as they face the immense challenge of loss. 

 We can ALL make our workplaces more grief-informed. Whether you're an employer, an employee, or simply someone who cares, your voice matters in creating a more responsive and humane environment.

Here at Grieve Leave, we offer training and other services to help your company navigate the complexities of grief in the workplace. Whether you need personalized grief policy consulting, signature talks, or customized sessions, we're here to provide comprehensive support tailored to your organization's needs. 

If this blog post has got you wanting to share your story about your own experiences with grief in the workplace, or you are a manager or employee looking to improve your grief-related policies at work, reach out to us at [email protected].


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