Return to work after bereavement which is connected to the work you deliver


Does anyone have any policies or procedures for returning for work after a bereavement which is directly linked to the field of service you deliver? I work with a small charity that supports people who are bereaved by suicide / suspected suicide, and part of our service is offering free counselling delivered by counsellors trained in the field of suicide bereavement support. We are interested in any advice on ‘return to work’ as part of a Bereavement Policy for if one of our counsellors were to be bereaved by suicide, considering any potential re-lived trauma or triggers when delivering counselling sessions specifically on something that they are currently navigating themselves, and acknowledging how bereavement impacts everyone differently.



Hi @moss. Thank you for being up for sharing this question. Such a deep and challenging one - It feels like it draws together a few difficult strands.

Couple things come to mind, some of which may be obvious, given the nature of your work, but will put them here, in case of use. I want to acknowledge that I’m not speaking from specific knowledge of suicide bereavement, so apologies if any of this is inappropriate to the context you are working in.

  1. Staff counselling benefits seem like a key starting point, but which may either be totally obvious for a group of counsellors, or more complicated as a result. I worked in a previous org on a policy that included this, reflecting on the vicarious traumas associated with doing the work (housing justice), and recognising that counselling may be crucial, but also not the right form of support for everyone.

  2. The other relevant policy areas that comes to mind, are around phased returns to work (often from long-term or chronic illness, such as this) and reasonable adjustments (often related to disability or neurodivergence). Both would think about what is manageable for the person, where they are at. Are there any parallels roles, or aspects of their roles, that would be possible/less-triggering, earlier in their returns? Are there ways to ease back into the frontlines of the work, with wider supports in place, that could reduce the impacts?

I realise none of these are simple ideas, and imagine something that tries to hold the person and situation as holistically as possible, would be critical, pulling in emotional supports, workplace adjustments and a lot of flexibility. Hopefully the links above could at least be pieces of the puzzle, but fully appreciate if they are not as specific to the kinds of issues that you’re describing could arise in these situations.

If you feel up for sharing any reflections or practices that you find or come up with, I’m sure there could be deep learning here for others who’s work issues/focuses are likely to effect staff and volunteers themselves.

Thanks again for putting this to the community <3

Hi @moss, Thank you for posting this question. I think we could have a lot in common as we share the same mission and would be great to chat and collaborate. I work for - if you’d like to chat please let me know and we can set it up!