Personal Assistance Service (PAS) | 2200 West Main Street | Erwin Square Tower | 4th Floor, Suite 400A | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-416-1PAS (919-416-1727)

Grief in the Workplace

A Grieving Co-Worker

Sometimes grief in the workplace has nothing to do with the death of a co-worker but times when individual employees are grieving the death of a loved one. Even though you may not know the person who dies, the survivor is your colleague and co-worker.

Grief in the WorkplaceBe sensitive to the person's needs. Provide safe places to talk and cry. Relieve them of as much stress as possible. Support their needs to travel and take care of personal business that might be the result of the death. Know your institution's policies for bereavement leave. Encourage grieving staff members to take care of themselves during this time. And, perhaps most importantly, be patient. There is no limit on grieving. Don't make the assumption that they should be done grieving according to your timetable.

Remember that the process takes time. Here are ways to help others help themselves:

  • Listen to the individual's pain without trying "to fix it."
  • Help the person focus on the present rather than the past or future. Memories can be helpful in the healing process.
  • Encourage the person to set a time and place where he can be alone to feel his feelings.
  • Empower the person to listen to, trust, and have faith in herself.
  • Look for new ways of being connected. Reach out to others.
  • Suggest keeping a journal about the grief experience. This can be very therapeutic.
  • Encourage the person to talk and cry with someone with whom he feels safe.
  • Remind the person to filter advice from others, keeping only that which is helpful. This is also a time to ask for what is needed. No one is a mind reader.
  • Remind the individual that although the experience may not feel normal, the pain, confusion and distress are very normal. This is the time to take extra good care of the whole self.
  • Offer specific assistance - like grocery shopping and helping with tasks.

A Guide for Managers >>