Empathy Releases Annual 'Cost of Dying' Report for 2023
Empathy's data-driven insights highlight the need for comprehensive bereavement support, especially in workplaces, to counter the administrative, emotional, and financial obstacles faced by those grieving
NEW YORK, Jan. 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Empathy, a platform helping families navigate the journey they face after the loss of a loved one, today released its 2023 annual report, The Cost of Dying. The report reveals new insights into the costs of a death in the family in the U.S. today, with a special focus on its impact on employees' sense of well-being in the workplace. The report includes key findings on the financial, logistical, and emotional impact loss has on bereaved families, as well as reflections from a dozen eminent experts in the end-of-life space.
Loss affects all aspects of grieving families' lives, including their health and well-being: 93% of people who have experienced loss report suffering from at least one physical or mental symptom. For a majority of people, these symptoms last for a prolonged period of several months or more, and are often intertwined with and exacerbated by the stress of wrapping up a loved one's affairs. This physical and mental strain is felt particularly acutely in the workplace, and balancing the immense burden of grief with a 9-to-5 job unsurprisingly impacts employees' careers. An astounding 92% of employees either take time off work or adjust their work commitments to deal with the loss of a loved one, while 76% of bereaved employees' overall performance at work was harmed. Employers have a unique responsibility to support employees in defusing stress, handling bereavement-related logistics, and bolstering overall well-being. Making holistic bereavement support a core component of a company's HR strategy is a win-win for employers and employees alike.
Empathy's comprehensive analysis of the cost of dying underscores the emotional, logistical, and financial challenges of bereavement for the family of the deceased. Other significant findings include:
- It takes families an average of 12.5 months to resolve all financial matters after a loss, and they spend a median of 12 hours per week on these tasks.
- The average total expense for handling financial matters is $4,384, including accountants' fees and paying off bills, while the average family spent $4,967 on legal matters.
- Dealing with the house is a responsibility for a sizable number of families: 47% of estates included a house or other real estate. Making house-related arrangements takes a long time: the families we surveyed required an average of 15 months to settle them all.
- Bereavement leave policies typically give employees 1-5 days off, based on the expected timeframe for planning a funeral, but 67% of employees took more time off than the number of days they spent planning the funeral — suggesting that bereavement leave is largely insufficient.
"As a society, we often minimize the true extent of the challenge posed by the loss of a loved one, a universal experience that we will all encounter over the course of our lives," said Ron Gura, Co-Founder & CEO of Empathy. "There is a scarcity of social services for the recently bereaved, a general misunderstanding of how to approach those experiencing grief, scant realization of the administrative and financial burden that invariably accompanies grief, and, on top all of that, a lack of sufficient bereavement policies in the workplace. This report makes it clearer than ever that bereavement leave and additional bereavement support policies are as important as any other HR benefit. Employers, employees, and society as a whole will all benefit from making enhanced bereavement support into a new standard in the workplace."
"The data in this report shows what I have always said: Grief is a life-changing experience, which we must honor by giving it grace and attention, and making space for it in our lives," said Major Bonnie Carroll, USAFR (RET), President and Founder of TAPS, an Army widow, and a 2015 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. "As much as we have a responsibility to those who are no longer with us, we have a responsibility to their families as well. We are at our best when we reach out to support those who are grieving, with all the resources and care at our disposal."
The Cost of Dying's findings are based on a survey of 1,485 respondents who experienced the loss of an immediate family member in the last five years. The complete report is available at empathy.com/costofdying.
Empathy's mission is to help families deal with the practical and emotional burdens they face after experiencing loss. Empathy's 24/7 Care Team and award-winning app provide families with all the tools, resources, and information they need to navigate the administrative responsibilities and emotions of loss. Headquartered in New York, Empathy partners with leading employers, Fortune 100 companies, insurers, and more, to assist and guide their customers and employees at one of the most difficult times in their lives. To learn more visit us at empathy.com.
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