Where the death of a loved one is considered the primary loss, experiences that flow from that death are called secondary losses.
“Secondary” means that these losses come as a result of the death, not that they are any less impactful or less difficult. They can unfold over time or become apparent in the immediate aftermath of the death. Secondary losses are a normal part of grief, and identifying and acknowledging them can often be the first step in grieving them.
Secondary losses are kind of the double whammy of grief. Which is, there's a death event, and then there may be a change in financial resources of the family. The father or the mother was the main breadwinner, and the loss of that income causes homelessness or food instability or creates a space where the family has to move out of the home. And, typically, because we've been taught to think about grief just as death-oriented, we don't factor in the impact that those secondary losses can have on a young person or on a family. And oftentimes, when a family does come into support services, they actually spend more time talking about those secondary losses than they do about the actual death event or the loss of their loved one, because those become the emergent needs. "We don't have food," or "we're losing our home because of the loss of our loved one," and that's actually the crisis."
The loss of financial security impacts many grievers. Joyal Mulheron explains the financial impacts of grief that can occur when someone loses a child.
After your child dies and then, of course, you're returning to work, a lot of families s- struggle. 69% of employers offer three days of paid bereavement leave, and so often that's not even enough time to plan a funeral for families or plan a memorial. And, then they're going back to work where, obviously, there are potentially a lot of questions. A lot of people also don't know what to do or how to be with someone. In many cases, there is a loss of purpose for parents, so retaining a job or wanting to go back to the job that you once had can be a real challenge.
And so once the employment is sort of at risk or at jeopardy, everything else becomes at risk.
And so, you know, it's whether or not you can make the mortgage on your house. It's whether or not you can send your kids to college. It's whether or not you can pay your car bill.
In addition, you know, some families are faced with additional legal bills, for example, in order to pursue someone criminally. In addition to that, there are families who... whose children may have died in college and they will receive a college bill.
There are a number or sort of unseen implications, economic implications, for families. Child death, for example, is not a qualifying event for FMLA job protection. So, if your child is killed, you could conceivably, if you did not return back to work within a few days and sometimes within... by the next day in some cases, you would not have a job. And that is perfectly legal.
In order for us to be a productive and globally competitive society, we do need to take care of one another. These are things that are achievable. It's just that no one's been working on them.