‘It is okay to not be okay’ - St Neots life coach offers support to help businesses take care of grieving employees

Julia Sinclair-Brown, who runs Evolvida, is encouraging people not to suffer in silence if they are

Julia Sinclair-Brown, who runs Evolvida, is encouraging people not to suffer in silence if they are dealing with grief while at work. Picture: BOND PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

A life coach from St Neots is aiming to tackle the stigma around grief by helping local companies to support employees through bereavement.

Julia Sinclair-Brown, who runs Evolvida, is encouraging people not to suffer in silence if they are dealing with grief while at work.

Julia, who has several years of experience in HR and coaching, is offering advice to employers who may find it hard to speak to their staff following a death of a loved one.

During the coronavirus pandemic, she feels that the loss of daily routine has also led to heightened feelings around bereavement – especially if someone passed away due to the virus.

“This is about understanding the impact on the individual,” she explained.

“It’s about educating organisations on what they could do to help, as often when someone returns to work after a loss their manager may just assume that they are okay or not even want to approach them to speak about it.

“Grief has been made worse during the pandemic as people have been restricted in attending funerals or getting the normal support they would otherwise have from family and friends.”

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In a survey in October last year, it was revealed that grieving employees were not being supported at work, both immediately following a death and in the weeks afterwards.

Speaking when Acas published its guidelines, managing bereavement in the workplace, Acas chair Sir Brendan Barber, said: “Grief from the death of a loved one can be an extremely sad and emotional experience for anyone.

“It can affect people in different ways in the workplace and managers should have the skills needed to handle it.”

Julia says that speaking out about difficult emotions is important to gain greater understanding in the workplace.

“One of the key things is to keep communication open,” she explained.

“Managers should ensure they use a calm, empathetic approach to ensure the employee feels supported, and to minimise their anxiety about returning to work.

“I would also advise someone to speak to their manager or HR about whether they are struggling to cope with their usual workload.”

She continued: “It could be that a phased return or having a temporary change of duties may help.

“The main thing is not to suffer in silence but to speak up about how you feel.

“Organisations have a duty of care and need to ensure that measures are put in place to take care of you.”

Julia also uses her own experiences to help those affected by loss, after going through significant bereavements in her life.

She continued: “I want to merge all my skills to help fill the gaps for organisations and break down some of the myths around grief.

“I had a huge amount of loss in my life and I managed to come through it but to help make meaning from it, I now want to use my skills to help others.

As it stands, there isn’t any legislation for compassionate leave but earlier this year it was announced that parents who lose a child will receive two weeks’ paid bereavement leave under new government rules.

Under the new law, parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will be able to take leave as either a single block of two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week each across the first year after the death.

“Understanding grief is complex and layered but if organisations value employee wellbeing, they will want to ensure someone who is bereaved does not endure further unnecessary pain through lack of support at work,” Julia added.

If you feel that Julia could help offer your company support whether it is educating managers/HR staff, supporting teams after the death of a colleague, or working with an individual, contact her at 07951 581458, visit her website at www.evolvida.co.uk or Facebook page Evolvida Coaching.