In the heart of London’s bustling financial district, RPC, a prominent law firm, hosted a webinar that would challenge the corporate world’s often unspoken rule: the personal stays personal, especially when it comes to mental health. The guest speaker, Rosie Gill-Moss, creator and host of the podcast, Widowed AF, was there to discuss a topic seldom broached in corporate corridors – coping with bereavement and grief.
Rosie’s story is one of sudden and profound loss. In 2018, her life as she knew it was shattered when her husband, Ben, died in a scuba diving accident. Left to navigate a new reality with her three young children, Rosie was thrust into a world of pain and confusion, a world where grief became her constant companion. Yet, in the depths of despair, she found resilience, love, and even the strength to remarry and continue her life journey with her new husband, Jon, who now produces her podcast.
Meanwhile, in a different part of the country, Anna Bignell faced her own battles. Her husband, Rich, a victim of the relentless pressure and stress of his corporate job, struggled with depression and anxiety. The need to make redundancies at work, a task deeply conflicting with his values, was the tipping point in his mental health crisis. Ultimately, Rich’s redundancy led to a tragic outcome, leaving Anna and their twin daughters to face a future without him.
The narratives of Rosie and Anna converge on a crucial point: the necessity of addressing mental health and grief in the workplace. During her webinar at RPC, Rosie highlighted the importance of open conversations about bereavement and grief, debunking the myth that grief is a linear process and emphasisng the need for compassion and understanding.
Rosie’s insights offer a valuable reflection on what might have been different for Rich had his employer adopted a more empathetic approach to mental health. The feelings of isolation, anger, and the overwhelming administrative burden that often accompany grief were points Rosie stressed as critical areas where employers can play a supportive role..
Key recommendations from Rosie’s presentation included the need for workplaces to recognize the changed person who returns after a significant loss. The bereaved might look the same, but they often carry a new perspective, shaped by their experience of loss and grief. She pointed out the importance of offering support networks, including counseling, flexible work arrangements, and an understanding of different bereavement traditions and cultures.
In essence, Rosie’s presentation at RPC proposed a shift in corporate culture – from one of stoicism and silence to one of openness and empathy. It suggested that acknowledging the human aspect of grief and mental health struggles, rather than ignoring them, could foster a more supportive and productive workplace.
Rosie’s and Anna’s stories underline the urgency of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. They call for a world where employees, like Rich, feel supported in their struggles, where conversations about mental health are as normal as discussions about physical health, and where compassion is recognised as a vital component of corporate responsibility.