[Podcast] Strength and Support Through Grief: Bereavement Leave for Pregnancy Loss

“To me, my baby's soul had a purpose. It was more than just making me a mom; it was ‘Let's make the world better’ and ‘Let's help employers wrap their arms around their people when they are going through this.’”

Julia Bueno, in her book titled The Brink of Being: Talking about miscarriage, said that even though one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, women often “don’t expect it to happen and are not prepared for what it may involve: neither the physical - and possible medical - endurance nor the roller coaster of competing and complex feelings that the grief for a lost pregnancy can involve. The sadness, guilt, self-blame, sense of failure and worthlessness, anger, and uncomfortable envy can surprise or even shock the bereaved, who bear all this with no sure sense of how or how long to grieve, nor confidence to talk about an experience that has been relentlessly silenced.” In our episode on Miscarriage and Stillbirth with Matt and Haley Phillips, Haley reflected that they “appreciated most when people just 'did' because people would say 'well let us know if you need anything'… I had no idea what I need right now because I can't even process what I'm feeling.”

With these things in mind, why is it that our employers often do not have pregnancy loss as part of their paid bereavement leave? According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), quoted in the Harvard Business Review, 88% of employers provide paid bereavement leave - anywhere from three to five days. However, according to Bloomberg, only about 25% of those offer paid leave for pregnancy loss. Our guest, Alison Cate, has been a voice for change in our community - successfully bringing change to her workplace and advocating for other workplaces to do the same. Be sure to hear her story of strength through loss!

This battle is actually being seen in real time as this post goes live. Beth Shelton, CEO of Girl Scouts of Iowa, has been a beacon of the cause that Alison champions. In a March 2023 LinkedIn post, Beth lays out the benefits she started back with her Rally Cry announcement in 2019. #2 on her list in 2023? "Paid bereavement leave for miscarriage. No process, no proof, no paperwork. Just support." It is that kind of leadership, with champions like Alison, who can help to move the needle of workplace change.

Conversely, we are seeing local stories where quite the opposite is taking place. Ankeny Community Schools is considering removing all leave types, including bereavement, in a cost savings attempt. This decision, though still only a proposal at the time of this article, is receiving significant backlash from the teacher community.

Our podcast episode also mentioned how you can get involved with your representatives in support of the Support Through Loss Act which is still waiting to be signed into law.

If you would like to dig in further in support of stillbirth awareness, education, and advocacy, please consider helping to Save the Stillbirth Task Force at the federal level.

I am amazed at the work Alison Cate has done with her advocacy efforts within her community and further. It was a deep honor to have her as a guest! Give her a follow on #LinkedIn - you'll be glad you did!

Please consider listening in, joining in the conversation, and most importantly always remember, you are loved, you are needed, you are appreciated, and you should never feel like you have to walk alone!