Helping a Co-Worker Who is Grieving

We live in a death denying society. It is often difficult for us to talk about death, especially with a relative stranger. In the workplace, however, it is very important to address the issues of the person's loss. To discuss the aspects of the loss that are important to the griever will lead to a more productive workplace. 

Ask about the loss. 

It is important that you take the initiative to talk about what happened. The griever will often keep what happened to themselves because they don't know who will be comfortable in talking about their loss. Ask them what happened and just sit back and LISTEN. 


In the workplace, we tend to be problem-solvers. Something happens and we work together to fix it. In the instance of loss through death, no one can fix it. If you spend your time giving advice or offering judgements to the griever, you will not be listening. Part of the process of grieving is telling the story. This is how grievers heal and make sense of the loss. If you are talking more than you are listening, you are not being there for them. 

The need for time off.

Help to negotiate time off during the first year if they request it. Again, it is difficult for grievers to initiate having their needs met. This will be especially difficult for them if they are very dependent on the job for their on-going survival. If possible, allow for periods of time off, especially at the aniversary of the death, or the birthday if it is requested. 

Help with workload.

A griever often will have difficulty with concentration, memory, and attention to details. They may be easily distracted and cry often. Needing to rearrange work load and share responsibilities will usually be temporary. Perhaps you can help with that. 

Share resources.

There are many good books available in recognized book stores and libraries about the grief process and grieving. There are also organizations and counsellors available in your community that will support people who are grieving. Providing this information to your co-worker will be beneficial to them. Please click on the Books and Videos You Might Like link above. 


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