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Campaign calls on employers to talk about bereavement support for colleagues

NEW RESEARCH carried out by Willen Hospice in Milton Keynes highlights that 83% of people in Milton Keynes have experienced a bereavement in the last five years, yet only 19% of people find it very easy to talk to others about dying, death and grief.

The research coincides with Dying Matters Awareness week this week (May 8-14) across the UK. The campaign aims to create a compassionate society where people are comfortable talking about death, dying and grief. The theme for this year’s awareness week is Dying Matters at work.

“The stigma that surrounds dying and grief means that many people struggle to cope when faced with the realities of life’s inevitable challenges. This often leaves people feeling isolated and alone,” said Rachael Withe, Willen Hospice’s marketing and communications manager. “This year’s Dying Matters theme recognises that we spend so much of our lives at work and by simply talking openly to those around us, we are helping to make workplaces more compassionate, where people feel supported and confident supporting others.”

One in four people surveyed by the palliative care charity revealed that they have had to stop work at some point to care for someone who has a life-limiting illness. One in three employees do not know if their organisation has a bereavement policy and 17% of managers admitted to not feeling confident supporting a colleague who is bereaved.

Willen Hospice


To encourage more conversations, Willen Hospice has a range of practical tools and resources on its website www.willen-hospice.org.uk/dyingmatters including videos, podcasts and book recommendations.

As well as running Dying Matters to Us sessions for hospice staff to encourage more open dialogue, the charity is hosting a free seminar for local businesses on May 18, sharing their specialist knowledge with business leaders and HR professionals. For more information, email corporate@willen-hospice.org.uk.

“A large part of a person’s life and identity is their employment; being able to provide financially, having a daily routine, having a sense of purpose, and being able to socialise with colleagues,” said Jenni Marks, the hospice’s therapeutic and wellbeing lead. “A life-limiting illness can affect a person in many ways, and they often want to maintain a sense of ‘normality’ for a long as possible.

“The impact of their illness, such as stress, anxiety and physical symptoms can prove challenging at times. Being able to be open about what this impact is on their work and knowing that they have the support from their organisation makes a huge difference to a person’s experience and wellbeing.”

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