Bereavement Advice for Employers and Service Providers

As an employer it pays to give consideration to how you treat employees who have experienced a bereavement. 

Here are some key points for employers:

  • Bereavement is not an illness. However, it affects the physical, emotional, spiritual well-being of a grieving person and their sociability. A bereaved person often needs time to recover re-energise and adjust to living without a loved one.
  • If offered sensitive and thoughtful support in the workplace, bereaved people are likely to recover more quickly.  Returning to work at an appropriate time and in the right way can be helpful to the bereaved person as work provides focus, structure and social interaction.  However it is vital that an employer handles the return to work with utmost care.
  • The greatest asset in any organization are its employees. So it is well worth caring for people who are grieving.

How can managers help?

  • Provide paid leave until a bereaved worker is ready and able to return and recognize the difficulties of returning to work after bereavement
  • Offer a phased return to work and reduced duties
  • Offer flexible working hours
  • Recognise the impact of bereavement on an employee and how this affects work performance
  • Try to keep pressure off the bereaved person for a while
  • Ensure bereaved employees feel respected and needed
  • Provide formal support
  • For a while, don’t expect a bereaved employee to perform as well as before or to cope with challenging tasks or deadlines
  • Ensure bereaved employees are not bullied or made to feel inadequate

How can work colleagues/co-workers help?

  • Acknowledge that a colleague has been bereaved
  • Offer help and support
  • Be sensitive and understanding
  • Ensure the bereaved person is included in everyday conversation
  • Carry out some simple act of kindness
  • Simply be available and listen
  • Help the bereaved employee with their tasks and workload
  • Avoid making insensitive comments or flippant remarks
  • Ensure the bereaved person does not feel left out or avoided
  • Avoid unnecessary conversations about other deaths

Recommendations for Employers

  • Produce appropriate and compassionate policies and guidance on bereavement issues, with clarity for line managers and employees in using them, but building in flexibility to allow for the fact that each bereaved person will grieve differently.
  • Provide adequate training and support for line managers on bereavement.
  • Remember that the effects of bereavement ebb and flow so a grieving employee may have good and bad days.
  • Be aware that ignoring the needs of bereaved people may cause increased sickness and absence and low morale.


Cruse Bristol offers a range of services and resources for employers and other service providers.

  • Short workshops on grief, and how to support staff who have been bereaved
  • Training for staff whose work involves supporting adults and children who have been bereaved

We tailor these to suit the needs of different organisations.

Coping with Loss

This short video video designed for staff caring for older people was produced by the Bristol Bereavement Forum and is available in DVD for £9.99 plus postage and packing.

Training for Employers

We offer training for potential Bereavement Volunteers once or twice a year.

The 60 hour ‘Awareness in Bereavement Care’ training usually takes place on Saturdays and or Sundays over the course of several months.

If you are interested in finding our more about becoming a bereavement volunteer please email