In my last post, I told you about that time in the fall of 2019 when we thought we had a miscarriage, and all the shame and guilt I carry around knowing what we know now.
It's hard to talk about, but it's a part of our story.
In that post, I promised you one piece of good came from this experience and I left you hangin' to find out what it is (#talkaboutacliffhanger 😂). So, here's what you've been waiting for...the GOOD!
On January 27, 2020, I had a really important conversation.
Let me tell you all about it.
At my previous job, I had an excellent relationship with the HR Director. I was in her office for a meeting about some upcoming internal comms. Toward the end of the meeting we were just chatting, and I somehow worked up the courage to share a small bit of our story.
This is how the conversation went:
Me: Actually, there is one more thing I'd like to talk to you about but it has nothing to do with internal comms.
Her: Of course – I'm all ears.
Me: <deep breath>
Me: What do you think about adding bereavement leave for employees who've experienced a miscarriage? Speaking from experience, the grief that is associated is unbearable and I think it would be a great, easy benefit to add. My friend who works at a different company recently brought this suggestion to her company and they've implemented it.
Her: Oh my gosh, Teri, I'm so sorry that happened to you. And what an amazing idea.
Fast forward to a few months later––I received an email from her letting me know they've updated the bereavement policy to include this.
And honestly? It's a win-win.
Providing this low-cost benefit gives employees the freedom to mourn their loss without having it impact their work. It has the potential to make a major impact on company culture. And, providing this benefit will (in my humble opinion) positively impact employee retention and show both current and potential employees that the company truly cares for their team members.
In short, it gives an employee space to heal and it humanizes the company.
Simple as that.
My inspiration for sharing this idea with my HR Director came from a girl I know from a town that neighbors my own hometown.
She has always been someone I've looked up to.
Her name is Alison Cate.
When Alison shared her personal miscarriage experience on social media, and how her company rallied around her and implemented this new bereavement policy rather quickly, I was in awe of her ability to talk openly and create change. THAT is what gave me the courage to bring this up to my own employer.
And––get this––her story even made it to the Wall Street Journal! Check out the real estate they gave this article–pretty impressive!
I recently asked Alison what it meant to her to know she has made such an impact by sharing her experience.
Here is what she said:
"When I started to share about our loss, something unexpected happened. I started to hear stories of so many women that had gone through it before me. To know you’re not alone and that you’re not without hope can be the one thing that helps you get out of bed in the morning.
I shared the concept of miscarriage as part of bereavement with my HR executives with absolutely no expectations.
Throughout my career, I had never heard of this idea and thought, in an off chance, maybe they hadn’t either. And I was correct. That was in October, and in December when they announced policy changes for the upcoming year, it was shared this would be included for all employees, whether it was you experiencing the loss or your partner.
I ugly cried at my desk. I felt so heard, so cared for, and so loved. The more people talked about it, the more coverage it got––and the more messages I received from strangers telling me they had successfully had it implemented at their workplace. It’s a low-cost policy that has a major impact on company culture and I’m so glad execs are taking notice.
I mourn the loss of that baby still today. But knowing that it caused so much good in the world, even before ever getting to take a first breath, helps me accept that God had a plan for us."
Friends, this is my one good thing that came from this experience. I am incredibly proud that my previous company implemented this into the bereavement policy––I can only hope it will help others in the future.
And, for the record, in my exit interview when I left that company I made sure to tell the HR Director that we found out we likely didn't experience a miscarriage like we originally thought. I was open and honest about my husband's spermless spuds––I never, ever want anyone to think we deceived them purposefully.
If I can do it, so can you.
I'll leave you with this: I will always advocate for better benefits for new parents/those experiencing loss. I encourage you to sit down with someone from your HR team and pitch this idea to them. You never know who this small, low cost policy change may impact. And, if I can do it, you can too.