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Dying Matters Awareness Week

Each year, hospices, healthcare trusts, charities and other organisations get involved in Dying Matters Awareness Week which, this year, started on 8th May.

The awareness week focuses on the importance of having discussions about death within our community. This year, the focus is around the workplace in particular. Experiencing bereavement is distressing, and attempting to carry on as normal at work can make it even harder.

As specialist mesothelioma solicitors, representing individuals and their families affected by this terminal asbestos cancer, we recognise how difficult returning to work can be for family members who have lost a loved one. Unfortunately, a lot of families do not have a choice but to go back to work after a bereavement, especially in the current economic climate. As a result, a supportive working environment can make a big difference.

We also recognise that our colleagues can sometimes need support when a client they have had regular contact with, passes away. Sadly, my colleagues and I experience the death of our clients on a far too regular basis. As a result, it's very important to have open discussions about the emotions that can come with this, which is highlighted by the awareness week.

At Irwin Mitchell, we have a strong focus on the wellbeing of our colleagues. Our solicitors have access to numerous resources to help them navigate difficult times, including an online counselling service, and we receive training on how to support our clients best through bereavement and also how to look after each other.

Jacquie Bates is a Client Support Manager who works at Irwin Mitchell in our Workplace Illness and Asbestos-Related Disease team. She's a qualified social worker and supports our clients and their families through bereavement as a result of mesothelioma or another occupational disease. 

Her top tips for people returning to work following a bereavement are as follows:

  • To have an open conversation with your line manager about the bereavement you have suffered and the support you may need as a result;
  • Ask your line manager to inform your colleagues. Your colleagues may be able to provide some support with your work load to make your transition back to work easier;
  • Utilise any wellbeing resources your employer may have available to you.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in supporting people and families affected by death from mesothelioma and other diseases at our dedicated asbestos-related disease section.