Are any of your employees struggling to focus at work because of a major life-changing event?
After a significant loss, such as treatment for cancer and other major illnesses; bereavement; break-up of a relationship; change in job role or team; or the loss of a pet, we often experience strong emotional side-effects which affect our mental capacity to function effectively. This is grief and it’s the normal emotional response to any loss.
At work, many of us pretend we’re “fine” as we’re scared to lose our jobs or we don’t want to be a burden. But often, it’s also because we’re unaware that what we are experiencing is grief.
For example, when we experience a major illness, we are faced with a series of losses, such as loss of identity, loss of confidence, loss of income, loss of energy, and so on. And once the initial shock is over and we’ve survived the treatment, that’s when the grief usually kicks in. We are then dealing with the pain and anxiety of coming to terms with these losses and most of us just adopt the “carry on” attitude and hope it will get better. This is misguided and instead can lead to complicated grief and depression.
As Richard Rohr says: “If we don’t transform our pain, we will transmit it.” Typically, we transmit our pain and confusion through changes in mood and behaviour – anger, impatience, depression, over-reliance on alcohol or drugs, over-working, etc. In extreme cases, suppressing grief can lead to self-destructive addiction and substance abuse, and can also result in physical illness.
One thing’s for sure, we or those close to us will all experience a major life-changing event like cancer at some point in our lives and will come face to face with the resulting grief. Grief is an equal opportunity employer. Whether you are a Company Director or a factory worker, when you are grieving you are a human being in need of help and support.
Knowing how to deal with grieving employees and providing the right support is clearly essential for your business as its success relies on your employees being able to function at their best.