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Workplace Grief

"Work As a Refuge"

A Study from 1988.



Case Studies - Introduction

The intent of this chapter is to provide a first- person account of the bereaved parents discussed in Chapter 3 who worked while grieving. Although the primary focus is on working while grieving, the full spectrum of the parent's experience, from the moment of first knowing of his child's death, is presented. The author believes the richness of the research derives from the rare opportunity to begin interviewing the parent one month after the sudden death of the child while, it is presumed, he is still in the state of shock and denial. Succeeding interviews then follow the grieving parent adapting again to his work environment.

The following section, Chapters 5 through 10, presents data and observations from the bereaved parents and their employers. Chapter 11 presents results from the multi-national corporations studied separately. In the first part of this section, six parental case studies are presented. Each case study is a separate and distinct chapter with no comparisons being made between subjects and their experiences. Each of these chapters is divided into the one month, three month, and six month interviews, with a summary of the findings included at the end of the chapter. Also included are the one month interviews with co-workers.

Understanding the intensity of the parental grief experience in the early stages of loss is important. For this reason, each interview is presented, for the most part, in the subject's own words. Due to the length of the interviews, they are edited. However, enough of each interview is included not only to present the main points, but also to convey an essence of the person being interviewed.

To protect the confidentiality of the bereaved parent subjects and co-workers, fictitious names are used. The deceased child's name is not mentioned nor are the names of the companies. Only a brief description of each is given.

All interviews cover the same questions. These questions are presented in Chapter 3. The order in which the questions were asked varied somewhat out of respect for the individual expression and condition of the subject at this difficult time.

Each interview is presented in the approximate order in which the subject answered the questions. This approach is adopted to allow the reader to follow the natural train of thought of the subject. The summary at the end of each chapter organizes the responses with regard to the seven objectives of the study as listed in Chapter 1.

Chapter 11 presents a summary of the interviews of each of the multi-national corporations. Again, for the sake of confidentiality, corporate and personal names are not given. Only a description of the corporations and the positions of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselors are given.

This chapter includes a comparison of the individual experiences of the Employee Assistance Program counselors with the bereaved employees. In addition, a comparison of the policies and procedures of these multi-national corporations is included.

In Chapter 12, a discussion of all case findings is presented and present policies and procedures now existing in major corporations are evaluated. Conclusions are drawn and recommendations for further research are made.