Turning tears to joy

HOPE FOR BEREAVED to offer grief seminar

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

“People spend as much energy in one day of grief as if they dug ditches for an eight-hour shift.”

—Sigmund Freud

HOPE FOR BEREAVED, a support organization for those dealing with grief, will offer a seminar entitled “How to Help When Grief is in the Workplace” on June 10 at the Center of HOPE in Syracuse from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The program is designed to train human resource managers and others to deal with employees’ grief, while at the same time maintaining productivity.

Whenever an employee experiences the death of a loved one, divorce, major illness or other traumatic loss, help and support can make a critical difference. By giving assistance to bereaved employees, businesses gain valuable dividends, not only in productivity and profitability, but also in good will.

Therese Schoeneck, founder/executive director of HOPE FOR BEREAVED, will present the seminar. She has served as a bereavement counselor, educator and consultant and is the author of How to Help When Grief is in the Workplace.

“When someone dies, it’s devastating,” said Schoeneck. “The employee may try to work, but they are distracted. When the person’s co-workers and boss are understanding and helpful it can make all the difference in the world.”

Schoeneck suggested some ways for giving support to a grieving employee when they first return to the workplace after experiencing a loss. She said the employee should have the opportunity to work an informal schedule. Also, instead of having each co-worker approach the grieving employee, just one employee who represents all of the coworkers should deliver their condolences to him or her.

Other acts of kindness to the grieving employee could include giving them a greeting card or a thoughtful gift and offering to help them in a specific way. “All of these things are helpful because the employee is immobilized by the grief,” Schoeneck said.

Schoeneck said that if companies utilize the information presented at the seminar, they would reduce absenteeism and improve morale in addition to maintaining their profitability and productivity. “A company’s biggest resource is its employees,” she said. “This will help their bottom line.”

Some of the useful information in the seminar includes developing an understanding of grief, 10 things to say to a bereaved coworker, eight things not to say to a co-worker, 10 things you can do to help a co-worker, how to be comfortable “making the first move,” the consequences of not reaching out to bereaved employees, examples of helpful and unhelpful employers and the three most important ways to help.

The $100 fee for the seminar includes course materials, a subscription to the HOPE Line newsletter and refreshments.

For more information and to register, call Pat at HOPE FOR BEREAVED at (315) 475-9675.

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