When grief becomes your emergency
Witnessing death can make it hard to switch off, even when the shift is over. Emergency services staff are likely to be confronted with loss more regularly than many other professions and it’s not uncommon for these experiences to take a toll on mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s why ‘You Behind the Uniform’ is offering self-care and confidential support designed around your needs. We also help families of blue light personnel and can help you to assist your colleagues. ‘You Behind the Uniform’ provides the tools and resources you need to manage during this painful and challenging time because we know bereavement is an emergency - no matter how strong you are, what you do, or how well trained you are.
You can attend our self-care sessions, visit our web pages with lots of helpful resources or use the phone for more direct support. Behind the uniform, we are here for you.
For further details and to book an information and self-care session for your staff contact us on YouBeU@cruse.org.uk or call National Helpline: 0808 808 1677.
Here are some suggestions to support yourself when you’re grieving
- Talk to other people about the person who has died, about your memories and your feelings
- Look after yourself. Eat properly and try to get enough rest (even if you can’t sleep)
- Give yourself time and permission to grieve
- Seek help and support if you feel you need it
- Tell people what you need
- Isolate yourself
- Keep your emotions bottled up
- Think you are weak for needing help
- Feel guilty if you are struggling to cope
- Turn to drugs or alcohol – the relief will only be temporary
Looking out for teammates and supporting grieving families
Many of us come into contact with bereaved colleagues during the course of our working lives and even the most confident person can find it hard to know what to say. Your colleague may want to talk about what happened and one of the most helpful things you can do is simply listen and give them the time and setting to express their grief as they choose.
You may want to pass on the contact details below, so your colleague can access confidential and independent support. Behind the uniform, we are here for you and for them.
For information and self-care sessions contact us at YouBeU@cruse.org.uk.
Call the National Helpline: 0808 808 1677.
Here are some suggestions which may help you and them:
- Offer your condolences
- Be there for your colleague who is grieving – ask how they are doing and what support they need
- Offer practical help
- Recognise that everyone grieves in their own way; there is no ‘normal’ way
- Be aware that grief can take a long time
- When appropriate, create an environment in which the bereaved person can be themselves and express their feelings, rather than having to put up a front
- Tell them to get in touch with Cruse
- Don’t avoid someone who is grieving or ignore the situation
- Don’t use clichés: ‘I know just how you feel’ or ‘You’ll get over it’
- Don’t tell them it’s time to move on, or that they should be over it by now
- Don’t assume you know how the person is feeling – every bereavement is unique
- Don’t say anything that may minimise or undermine the loss, such as ‘it’s just part of the job’ or ‘we all bad days’
- Don’t say anything to make light of bereavement, such as ‘time will heal’ or ‘pull yourself together’
Guidelines for management - When your employee is grieving
Cruse’s primary long-term aim on this project is to assist the emergency services in developing an internal culture of resilience and self-care that enables employees to seek bereavement support when needed. This leads to a more sustainable workforce, and better personal and professional lives.
Emergency services personnel are more likely to experience injury or death in their roles. A combination of interventions including early assessment and intervention, focused time-limited support, peer support and management training all contribute to better outcomes for bereaved people – particularly those who have experienced a traumatic and sudden bereavement. There is strong evidence that workplace trauma (including grief) is a major contributor to a decline in mental health, as well as long-term sickness absence in the workforce. By addressing workplace trauma our service will also directly benefit sickness absence.
Benefits to your organisation
We are delighted to be able to offer our support services for free to Emergency Services. Self care sessions are offered on first come first served basis
Your employees and grieving families will receive information which will help them understand how they might be feeling and what they can do to cope.
Our self-care sessions and direct support are not replacements to any existing service you might have, but they will work in addition to it.
You will benefit from our 60 years’ experience in bereavement and our long history of partnership-working and advanced best practice development in the bereavement field. Our expertise has led us to working on the response team for the Grenfell fire and Westminster Bridge attack, supporting first-responders and the general public first-hand.
For further details and to book an information and self-care session for your staff contact us on YouBeU@cruse.org.uk.