Bereavement and its effects on mental health

The loss of a loved one or colleague can trigger a range of emotions, including sadness, grief, anger, and confusion. These emotions are a natural response to loss, but they can also have significant effects on mental health. Bereavement can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as difficulty concentrating and making decisions. 

In terms of home life, the effects of bereavement can be far-reaching. Grieving individuals may struggle to maintain their daily routines, experience disruptions in sleep patterns, and have difficulty engaging in social activities. Relationships with family members and friends may also be strained as individuals navigate their grief in different ways. 

The impact of bereavement on work life can also be significant. Grieving individuals may find it challenging to focus on their tasks, meet deadlines, and interact with colleagues. Productivity may decrease, and absenteeism may increase as individuals take time off to cope with their loss. The emotional toll of bereavement can also affect job performance and satisfaction. 

Types of grief

  • Normal grief – grief that lasts a period of six months to two years.
  • Absent grief – when there is a complete void of grief, often with the presence of denial and shock.
  • Anticipatory grief – anticipation of a significant loss.
  • Delayed grief – can happen long after the loss has occurred and often triggered by another significant loss.
  • Complicated grief – having conflicting feels for the loss.
  • Cumulative grief – builds up over time and is marked by a number of losses.
  • Disenfranchised grief – feeling the need to hide your grief from the public, often when the loss is of something secret or a pet, where some people see the as being small.
  • Inhibited grief – when grief is bottled up and not shown, the person often takes up additional work to distract themself from it.
  • Abbreviated grief – grief that passes quickly.
  • Chronic grief – having very strong emotions around the grief for months to years following the initial loss.
  • Collective grief – grieving as a community.

Physical effects of grief

  • Aches and pains.
  • Impaired immune system.
  • Sleepless nights.
  • Gut issues.
  • Over and under indulgence.

It is important for employers to recognise the effects of bereavement on mental health and provide support to employees who are grieving. Offering bereavement leave, flexible work arrangements, and access to counselling services can help employees navigate their grief and maintain their well-being. Creating a compassionate and understanding work environment can also help employees feel supported during this challenging time. 

Supporting someone who is grieving

  • Be present – show that you care.
  • Be curious – ask them what they want, and how to support them.
  • Offer to take work off their plate – try to make their life easier for them.

Bereavement can have a profound impact on mental health and well-being, affecting both home and work life. By acknowledging the effects of grief, providing support and resources, and fostering a supportive environment, individuals can navigate their loss and begin the healing process.

TRIGGER WARNING: The video below contains discussion on sudden death and may be upsetting to some viewers.