PRESS RELEASE: Work giving you grief?

UK adults feel pressure to return to work after a loss

Research has revealed just how challenging us Brits find the return to work after a bereavement. More than half (58%) of adults felt pressured to return to work after a loss, with 30% feeling they needed more than two weeks off before they were truly ready to come back.

With almost half (46%) of grieving adults feeling actively avoided by others, it comes as no surprise then that 4 in 10 felt isolated at work after suffering the loss of a loved one. As a nation known for its discomfort when talking about emotions, the findings uncover how we still struggle to find the right things to say to those grieving.

As well as tackling feelings of loneliness and isolation, we are also left worrying how our grief is being perceived by those around us. When dealing with the loss of a loved one who is not an immediate family member, over three in ten (31%) of adults felt they had to justify their level of grief.

At Co-op Funeralcare we're actively involved in our local communities, tackling grief and loneliness via initiatives such as bereavement groups and our long term work in partnership with the British Red Cross. With bereavement groups across the UK, those wanting a chat, some company or to be with likeminded people, anyone who has been impacted by bereavement is encouraged to come along.

David Collingwood, Director of Funerals for Co-op Funeralcare commented: "Our priority is to do right by our clients. We understand that bereavement is completely unique to every person involved and everyone deals with it in different ways. There are many difficult hurdles to overcome after a bereavement, for many the funeral is just the first step. We don’t get over our loss, we learn to live with it. Learning to live with grief can involve tackling going back to work, a family birthday, Christmas and many other events that will remind us of the person we’ve lost.

"It’s a common misconception that bereaved people don’t want to talk, which is why I’m not surprised that 46% of people feel avoided. One of the most comforting thing for people can be getting back into a routine and the support of others is an essential part of this."

Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works, comments: "Amongst the fascinating stats that the Co-op’s research has evidenced, I am not surprised to see that 4 in 10 people who are bereaved feel isolated when they are back of work. This isn’t necessarily because their colleagues are cold hearted and uncaring, it is because they are uninformed about how to respond to someone who is grieving, so tend to withdraw for fear of 'getting it wrong’.

"Bereaved employees who are responded to sensitively, by having a conversation with their boss about what their colleagues are told, what they are concerned about and what might help them, takes very little time and reaps huge rewards in both support and loyalty to the organisation. What works is acknowledging their loss and being given simple kindness, it isn’t complicated but it can take confidence to do."

*Research conducted by Atomik on our behalf with 2,000 UK adults in February 2018.

Tips from Julia Samuel on managing grief in the workplace are available here.

For further information contact

Sarah Pyatt

Press Officer

Lauren Pogson

Senior PR Manager