Most people affected by pregnancy or baby loss (77%) returned to work after their loss, but more than half (53%) said no one talked to them about what had happened1, finds a new survey by the UK’s leading pregnancy and baby loss charity Sands.

A lack of conversation about pregnancy or baby loss matters because of the impact on bereaved parents and on their workplace. Those bereaved parents who had returned to work said that when no one asked about their loss it made them feel isolated and lonely at work (27%), or ‘like no one cared’ (24%).

However, when work colleagues did talk to them about their loss this had a positive impact, with most feeling supported and listened to (60%), like they and their baby mattered (38%), and better able to manage their workplace relationships (33%).

The charity is now urging all small and medium-sized UK-based businesses to take up its offer of free Bereavement in the Workplace training so that anyone affected by this devastating loss gets the support they need to return to their job if they want to.3

The call on business comes as Sands launches its Finding the Words campaign today (17 June), at the start of its annual Sands Awareness Week, to help everyone feel more confident to start these important conversations.

Sands’ Head of Training and Strategic Planning Clare Worgan said:

Most of us are worried about saying the wrong thing, which means that we say nothing at all, leaving colleagues feeling isolated and alone. Our advice is to be brave, acknowledge what has happened and offer support. Saying “I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to your baby” is often enough to let your colleague know they are not alone.

Clare Worgan, Sands’ Head of Training and Strategic Planning

More key findings from the Finding the Words survey

When asked to think about people they knew who had experienced pregnancy or baby loss, the majority of people said they had felt confident talking to a partner (79%) family (70%) or a friend (68%) about their loss.

However, less than half (44%) said they had been confident talking to a work colleague, and just over a third (34%) when this was someone they knew in their local community.

When asked to choose from multiple reasons why they found it hard to start a conversation about someone’s loss, the most common reason people gave was because they were worried about upsetting the person affected (58%).

Other reasons included:

  • I simply didn’t know what to say (45%)
  • I felt it was too personal (38%)
  • It never seemed to be the right moment (24%)
  • I was worried that I would get upset (18%)
  • I felt that too much time had passed (10%)

Overcoming these barriers is important because regardless of whether anyone asked them or not, the majority of bereaved parents (63%) said they did want to talk about what had happened.

When asked what would help people feel more confident to start a conversation with someone they know about pregnancy or baby loss the most popular answers were

  • Conversation starters/top tips to help if I’m worried about saying the wrong thing (56%)
  • Background information about types of loss and grieving loss (42%)
  • Knowledge about an organisation to sign post them to for support (41%)
Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.