36 days ago
We can often carry limiting beliefs about loss – firstly that it is a depressing topic that many people don’t want to talk about. Secondly – that loss only applies when talking about death.
Loss can take many forms – you may have experienced a goodbye in your life recently (an empty nest, separation from loved ones, the breakdown of a relationship), be affected by the loss of certainty in your day-to-day life, or going through some financial changes in the home.
And it's the same with grief. Sometimes it can be a brief period of sadness before life resumes at its usual pace. And other times, it can bring us to halt. So, what can we do to ensure that we don’t ignore feelings of loss and grief at this time, and become tempted not to process them? And how can we support others going through hard times?
Identifying loss and grief
What losses do you face? How do you feel about them? How are you grieving? These can all be difficult questions to find the answer to.
If you’re struggling to identify with what you’re feeling at all, just talking it through with someone may be the first step you need. Talk is a great place to start.
If you need help understanding what grief may feel like, MIND offers a great overview and some easy to understand examples of different ways that people grieve. Understanding what you’re feeling is a great first step to looking for the right support or employing useful coping strategies.
If you’re feeling generally low, anxious or hopeless, you can use the NHS Mood Assessment Tool (whether you live in Great Britain or the island of Ireland) to find out if you may be experiencing symptoms relating to anxiety, or perhaps depression.
Practical support for those who have lost a loved one
One of the hard facts we have all had to face during the Covid-19 pandemic is that we may lose (or have already lost) the lives of family or friends to Coronavirus. The practical steps you must take to register a loss of life have changed in both the UK and Republic of Ireland. Dealing with how this process has changed may leave you feeling confused or upset.
This short video from our employee assistance programme provides helpful advice on being kind to others, and yourself, whilst experiencing the loss of a loved one.
Emotional wellbeing support
Everyone’s experience of loss and grief is different. There’s no one size fits all approach to dealing with complex emotional scenarios, but there are a few things that can universally benefit us all:
Talking it through. Did you know that by simply labelling and addressing feelings out loud, you can reduce the level of activity in the part of the brain that triggers the fight-or-flight reaction? If you don’t have anyone to talk to at home, try confiding in a colleague, your manager or by using Talk.
Keeping a routine can be difficult during times of loss, but getting up, dressed, and eating regularly, as well as doing your best to get a sleep routine in place, will set the basic foundational needs to build the rest of your day around.
Drawing/journaling has become quite trendy of late, but you don’t need a fancy notebook or the world’s neatest handwriting to help you get your feelings on to a page. Whether it’s drawing or writing – taking 10 minutes to simply let your thoughts flow on paper is an effective way of opening up, and can be handy if you need to refer back to it.
Coping at work and supporting colleagues who are experiencing loss
You or your colleagues may have taken time away from work whilst experiencing loss, but this isn’t the case for everybody, and those that do take time off may return to work still needing support. If feelings of loss and grief are affecting you whilst at work, you may consider:
Speaking with your line manager
Sharing your experience with team members if you feel comfortable
Accessing Able Futures – a UK Government initiative that provides a wide range of mental health support services for those at work. We are investigating alternative solutions for colleagues in the Republic of Ireland.
As many colleagues continue to work virtually, you may find yourself wanting to support a team member or friend through their experience, but not knowing how. If that’s the case, check out these two fantastic resources:
‘When a colleague is grieving’. Although primarily aimed at managers, this article gives practical and warm advice on how to deal with the topic of loss at work, and suggests how we might change it for the better.
This sub-ten-minute read on coping with grief and loss in a virtual team explores a four-step approach to helping a team with loss, and specific ways those steps can still be taken if a team is working remotely or virtually.
Whatever your experience of loss or grief - whether in the short or longer term - remember that your colleagues, manager, and support structures within Sodexo are here for you.
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