Fi Bereaved Parents

What Employers Need to Know About Supporting Bereaved Parents

Published by
03rd July 2024

Supporting an employee through grief is always difficult; we all grieve differently. But it can feel particularly daunting to support the aching grief of a recently bereaved parent.

It’s important for employers to consider that a parent’s journey with their bereavement doesn’t always begin post-mortem. For parents who lose their children to illness, this process would have started long before. And in some ways, this part can be even harder to manage, as a parent will still be juggling work alongside this traumatic process.

During this period, flexibility is of the utmost importance. Employers who can offer as much flexibility as possible to a parent going through that process will allow them to have the time they need to prepare for what will inevitably be an intensely emotional time. It wouldn’t be surprising to see performance slip in these employees, but employers should acknowledge that this is temporary and heavily influenced by the nature of the circumstances.

Once a parent has lost a child, there are a few things employers can do to help them:

  • Support Programs – employers should ensure that they make recently bereaved parents aware of the support programs that are available to them. While 79% of employers provide an Employee Assistance Program, only 27% of employees realise this exists as an option. It is therefore important to highlight the counselling and support services they offer, as this could be instrumental in helping a parent going through such a loss.
  • Send a Token of Support – sending a small token, even just a card, can go a long way. As an employer, it’s important to focus on the human aspect of your employees when they go through a loss like this – and what they need more than anything is to know that you are there, you are supportive, and you are happy to give them the time they need to process. Receiving a card or flowers shows that you care and, in doing so, will help to alleviate any feelings of guilt the employee might have about being away from work.
  • Keep Connected – a sense of connection with work and colleagues can be valuable when someone may feel very disconnected from everything else. That’s why it’s important that managers regularly check in with the employee whilst they are grieving. Fostering this bond can help managers discover any hardships that employees may be going through and need support with. In doing so, managers will help the employee feel valued as a worker, in the process building loyalty and trust.

It all comes down to emphasizing the ‘human’ in human resources. When an employee goes through something as unimaginable as the loss of a child, what they need more than anything is to be seen as more than just an employee, but a three-dimensional person. By doing this, employers will be better able to offer the support the employee may need during this time, aiding in their eventual assimilation back into working life when the time comes.

To discuss how we can help strengthen your bereavement support strategies, please get in touch with me directly at

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