, , , ,

By Barbara Rubel, Guest Blogger

Workplaces may be dealing with natural deaths such as cancer, influenza or heart attack, as well as 8-unhappy-people-refuseorganizational transitional changes such as team restructuring, reassignments, and relocations. Anticipatory deaths and non-death related losses can trigger a climate of grief among workers. Suicide is another story.

In the first article in this series, I focused on what a workplace needs to have in place before a suicide. This part focuses on the questions an organizational planning group asks during the bereavement policy planning process.

During the planning process, the group’s focus is on suicide-loss guidelines and practices currently in place; the organization’s current immediate response to suicide-loss; those individuals involved in the current bereavement protocol; organizational internal support systems; and the necessary suicide bereavement related forms needed such as a “suicide bereavement policy statement”; “bereavement allowance benefit request after a suicide”; “internal notification of suicide memo”; and “employee needs interview”.

Here are 10 questions an organizational planning group typically asks while developing a suicide bereavement policy:

* What guidelines and practices are currently in place when employees experience the suicide death of a significant person?

* Based on your organization’s current immediate response to suicide-loss in the workplace, what should be changed?

* What individuals (human resource generalists, leaders, management, grieving employees) are involved in the current bereavement protocol after a suicide?

* What are your organizational internal support systems (employee assistance programs, human resources, managers) and external support systems (healthcare and victim assistance professionals, suicide hotline numbers, community chaplains, and funeral aftercare providers) that can support employees after a suicide?

website-photo-2016* Are you aware of emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical and spiritual grief reactions suicide-loss survivors can experience upon returning to work?

* What types of sympathy gifts can your organization/colleagues send to comfort and support grieving employees and/or their family members after a suicide?

* What goes into a “Suicide Bereavement Policy Statement”?

* Why should employees complete a “Bereavement Allowance Benefit Request” after a suicide?

* What should be included in an organizational leader’s “Internal Notification of Suicide Memo” to employees?

* To ease grieving employees reentries into their workplaces, what questions need to be asked of them during an “Employee Needs Interview”?

The Carson J Spencer Foundation notes that protocols must be in place that carefully coordinate employee communication in consultation with their HR management and policies and procedures in cases of suicide. The suicide bereavement policy planning process is key in helping organizational leaders faced with the problem of lost productivity and on-the-job errors caused by bereaved suicide-loss survivors and the financial cost of bereavement after a suicide.

Postvention and grief in the workplace expert, Barbara Rubel, MA, BCETS, has been helping the EAP community for many years, presenting keynotes, workshop and trainings across the U.S. Her website is http://www.griefworkcenter.com