Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

The death of Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride last week came as a shock to all apart from close family and friends who were in the know that she was seriously ill.

Although Miss Kirkbride was on a sabbatical from her job, she was apparently expected back at work and so aside from her nearest and dearest I expect those who worked with her will find it most difficult to come to terms with their loss.

According to Dying Matters a third of people bereaved in the last five years say they were not treated with compassion by their employer.

The work environment can be a difficult place to show emotion, especially if there are more mundane pressures such as targets or deadlines.

People who have been bereaved report that when they go back to work no one wants to talk to them about the person they have lost and if a work colleague dies there is often minimal acknowledgment by an organisation that something big has happened.

I am generalising here and there are many examples of good practice by employers, but it is fair to say that as a society we are encouraged to adopt a stiff upper lip and get on with it.

It was therefore good to see that the day after Miss Kirkbride died, filming on the Coronation Street set was suspended so the cast and crew could mourn their friend and colleague.

This approach to death was enlightened in both a personal and a commercial sense.

Commercial because there is strong evidence that organisations that acknowledge death as a fact of life and let their people grieve properly actually do better in the long run as staff deal better with bereavement.

Death happens and we have no control over it and if work places can help acknowledge that, let people talk about it and ultimately deal with it better then that is to the benefit of us all. In short, admitting that death happens and making space and time to talk about it is good for the economy.

So well done the decision makers at Coronation Street for trying their best not to let an unexpected turn of events in real life turn into a more upsetting drama than it already is.