Miscarriage may be more common than we think, but that doesn’t make it any less traumatic for either of the parents.
Women that go through a miscarriage feel grief similar to other significant losses and could likely experience clinical levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD in the days, weeks, months, or years following pregnancy loss.
While employers may want to be as sensitive as possible to empathise with an employee going through a miscarriage, the reality is that they may not have the proper skills, tools, or training to handle situations similar to this. This could lead them to make mistakes that could elicit the opposite reaction to what was intended.
So how can employers support employees who need miscarriage support in the UK while avoiding common pitfalls?
Family, friends, and health professionals play a significant role in creating a support system for women going through a miscarriage and what they say or don’t say can have a lasting impact.
Even so, we still feel uncomfortable talking about any kind of loss and often women are forced to experience this avalanche of emotions alone. With the full-time British worker averaging 36.6 hours per week, employees spend a lot of time at work and employers need to stop thinking about miscarriage as a taboo topic.
Let’s take a closer look at how employers can avoid common mistakes when offering miscarriage support.
‘It wasn’t meant to be’ and ‘it’s so common’ are two of the most frequent comments that people feel would comfort a person going through a miscarriage, however, it’s hurtful and can even appear dismissive of their feelings. Instead, you could even get the help of an expert to train your employees and managers on how to deal with miscarriage at work.
Grief doesn’t come with a standard countdown that magically restores an employee’s feelings when it hits zero. A woman’s grief isn’t contingent on how long they were pregnant before the miscarriage. Therefore, letting them grieve in their own way and in their own time is acceptable. Avoid trying to push them back into work before they’re ready to return.
You may have faced a miscarriage of your own, but remember that not everyone grieves pregnancy loss the same way. Be sensitive and empathetic while refraining from giving advice that could leave them feeling that they’re to blame. Unsolicited—and unhelpful—advice like ‘you’re stressing too much’ can leave them feeling worse for a long time.
While it’s important to give them space, it’s also important to acknowledge their loss. Recognise what they’re going through and support them to come to work at their own pace. Offering support services like access to a grief specialist can help them deal with their pregnancy loss and work through their emotions in a safe environment.
Everyone experiences grief differently, making it incredibly difficult to process—especially when returning to work.
Our blog—Managing employee grief: How to support an employee after pregnancy loss—discusses how employers can create a workplace that helps employees feel comfortable when returning to work.
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