Today is Child Grief Awareness Day and experts say employee benefits often offer bereavement support, but that this is underutilised.
Bereavement support for children is often embedded within employee benefits, but is too often underutilised, according to a nurse-led health and wellbeing service.
RedArc says this deficit is due to a lack of employer awareness that children-specific bereavement support is often embedded into employee benefits (such as life assurance or critical protection) that they already provide.
Speaking on Child Grief Awareness Day, Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc, says: “Children can have some very specific fears and concerns at this traumatic time and it’s highly likely that if a child is grieving, their parents, guardians and carers are too. Both of these issues make supporting a bereaved child particularly difficult.
“Employers can show their concern for grieving staff by ensuring support is communicated and that staff engage with that support when it is most needed by themselves and their families.”
She adds: “When compassionate leave is granted, it is generally so short that it does not allow the individual to deal with their own grief, or that of their children, in any meaningful sense. In many cases, employees also choose to go back to work to provide a routine and sense of normality. Many employees will have made a return to their workplace when dealing with the immediate and longer term emotional impa
“Supporting children through bereavement is enormously difficult and sometimes all-consuming for parents. Many employers already have the means to help their staff feel better equipped to deal with the issues that arise when a child is grieving but are not aware that this is included in their existing employee benefits programme. Too many employers and employees wrongly assume the support is only available for the employee rather than their dependants too, and it’s important that they’re aware of the support they’re able to access.”
RedArc says support needs to acknowledge factors such as the child’s relationship to the person who has died, how regularly they saw or interacted with that individual and the nature of the loved one’s death and should cover everything from guidance on how to discuss the death in an honest way that the child can understand and referral to counselling to guidance on how to liaise with schools and signposting to national or local bereavement support organisations for specialist help. RedArc warns that unresolved childhood grief can continue to impact adults later in life.