The Politics of Grief

By: Thomas Geldmacher   Daniela Musiol  

We grow older, we work longer, and by 2025, 40 percent of the work force will be made up of 50- to 65-year olds who are about to lose their parents. Every year in Austria alone, roughly 12,000 persons die while still employed, leaving behind grieving relatives and grieving colleagues. And yet bereavement is still considered an essentially individual affair whose place is the private realm but which should not be bothered with in public, let alone in the workplace. But an ageing society makes us think about death even harder. So it is time for politics to address the grief issue – not only because it is the right thing to do but also because avoiding it will cost a lot of money due to absenteeism, presentism, and psychological illnesses as a consequence of suppressed grief. It is the aim of the research we're conducting to bridge the gap between theory and political practice, making available a survey of select national grief-related policies and proposing legislative measures in order to deal with grief and bereavement not only, but specifically in professional environments. Law defines norms. What is codified by law, becomes normal. So implementing grief in legislation is our best chance to acknowledge it as a normal part of life, not as some exotic illness.

Public Policy, Government Policies, Grief, Economic Impacts
Economic and Demographic Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Thomas Geldmacher

Gesellschafter, Rundumberatung OG

Born 1970. Political scientist, historian, mediator. Deals, among other things, with grief and death in the workplace and strategic communication. Has been, among other things, journalist, provenance researcher, parliamentary advisor. Scientific work includes the participation of Austrian policemen in the holocaust in Eastern Galicia, the rehabilitation of Austrian Wehrmacht deserters, the application of grief theory in mediation. Teaches at Lauder Business School.

Mrs. Daniela Musiol

Gesellschafterin, Rundumberatung OG, Austria