Loss of any kind may negatively impact your work. Death in the workplace can cause company-wide grief and workers who are unable to cope. If you experience a personal loss, you may be expected to come back to work when you are not emotionally or mentally ready. When someone dies in your workplace, support the family of the deceased, share your feelings with coworkers, and find a way to honor the person. When you experience personal loss, determine what bereavement leave you have, talk to your boss when you're having trouble, and go easy on yourself.
Method 1 of 3:Dealing with a Death in the Workplace
1Determine if there are counseling services available. If a fatal accident happens at work or a co-worker dies, many companies will offer counseling services through them to help deal with the grief. This counseling will be aimed at helping you cope and grieve for your co-worker so you can move on and continue to work despite the loss.Trustworthy SourceAmerican Psychological AssociationLeading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologistsGo to source
Talk to your manager, supervisor, or HR representative to see if there are services available to you.
2Be available for the family. If someone in your workplace has died, they may want contact with people their loved one worked with. They may want help cleaning out desks or lockers, or they may want to share any memories you have of your co-worker.
If you are in a management position, you may also need to answer questions or provide help for the family of your colleague, especially with dealing with any workplace paperwork or business.
3Reach out to the family. Some people cope with grief by extending their condolences and support to the family of the deceased. You may decide you would like to contact the family and support them. If you are not sure how to get in touch with them, talk to someone in management to determine if they can let the family know you would like to contact them to offer support.
For example, you may want to attend funeral services, bring food, help clean out desks or lockers, or send flowers.
4Share your feelings. If you feel it will help, share your feelings with others. This may be a co-worker who wants to talk about the deceased person. If there is no one at your workplace you want to talk to, talk to a family member or friend.
For example, you may say, “I would like to talk about our co-worker. I have a lot of feelings and am trying to cope. I think talking about it will help.”
5Organize a way to honor the deceased person. When someone in your company dies, you may want to remember them by doing something in their honor. This can help give closure to the people who worked alongside of them. Honoring the deceased coworker can also help everyone cope.
For example, you may make a board or wall in memorial of the person with photos, memories, and notes.
You may want to donate money in their name to a charity or hold a fundraiser in their honor and donate the proceeds to charity.
Hold a company memorial service for the person where colleagues can get together to share memories and grieve together.
6Know that not everyone deals with grief the same way. When you experience a death at your office, everyone will not react the same. Some people talk about their grief or deal with it outwardly. Others will ignore it or refuse to talk about it. Some people cannot handle other people's grief because they have enough trouble dealing with their own. Don't be angry when a co-worker doesn't grieve the same way you do.
Respect how your co-workers grieve. If you want to talk about it and your co-worker doesn't, don't badger them. If they want to talk and you don't, gently say, “I understand you want to discuss this. However, I am not comfortable talking about it. Please respect the way I grieve and know I wish not to talk about it.”
7Find a support group. When your co-workers are all faced with tragedy, it can be helpful to create a support group. Find others who want to talk about their grief or just be around others who understand. You can hold weekly meetings to talk through the grief while you all heal.
Don't be offended if someone doesn't want to join the group. Not everyone will be comfortable sharing their grief with co-workers.
If you can't get a support group together at work, consider looking for a support group in your area dealing with loss or trauma.
Method 2 of 3:Dealing with a Personal Loss
1Inform your employers of your loss. When you have experienced loss, you may not be able to return to work for a few days. Contact your supervisor, manager, or human resources to let them know of your loss. If you work alongside others, you may want the manager to let your coworkers know what happened.
You may choose to write an email or call your place of employment.
If you do not want to have to explain your situation to everyone in your office, you may want to tell your boss to let everyone know for you.
2Find out what bereavement leave you have. Many jobs offer some kind of bereavement leave when someone in your immediate family or a close friend dies. This may be a few days, and some companies may offer up to a week or two. This time allows you the chance to arrange funerals and take care of other details surrounding the death.
This bereavement leave may not be long enough for you to cope and deal with the grief. If you cannot take more time off, try to rest and use the time off you do get to do as much as you can.
3Understand that grief is a process. Many employers expect you to ignore the grief and be back at work immediately. They may expect you to be fine, at your best, and “over it.” Realize that grief is a process that takes time to work through. You will need time to heal.
There is no normal time to grieve for a loss. However, if you are unable to function and do your job after a month or more, you should consider seeing a mental health specialist to help you deal with your grief.
4Prioritize your work tasks. When you are coping with workplace grief, it may be difficult to focus on your work. If you are unable to take any more time off, you may need to figure out the best way to be productive. It may help to prioritize the work you need to do. This way, you can focus on finishing the most pressing tasks and not worry about less important things.
For example, if you have an inbox full of emails, focus on replying to the ones that must be dealt with today. If something can be put off until tomorrow, skip it and come back to it.
5Use the familiarity of work to help you cope. Sometimes, distracting yourself with work and getting back to your routine can help you cope with your grief. Focusing on work may help you get your mind off your loss. Routine may help you start to feel some normalcy and like life will go on despite your grief and loss.
When you're at work, try to think just about work. Push all other thoughts out of your head. Let yourself focus on something other than your grief. It may help you process and start to heal.
6Consider a lighter workload. If you are struggling to get back to work, you may want to ask your boss if it is possible to have a temporary lighter work load. If you are the boss and your employer is having trouble, consider allowing them to take it easy for awhile.
Explain that your grief is affecting your productivity. Say, “I have suffered a significant loss. It is affecting my concentration and making it difficult to think clearly. I was wondering if I could have a lighter workload while I overcome this loss.”
7Ask for help. When you experience a loss, you should reach out to your coworkers, managers, and supervisors. Share with them what you feel comfortable sharing. Then, ask for help if you need it. You don't have to do everything on your own.
For example, you may say, “I'm struggling getting things done because I can't concentrate. I was hoping you could help me just for a few days until I get my bearings again.”
8Seek professional help. If you have trouble adjusting back to your job after a loss, you may want to see a mental health professional. Even if you talked with a company counselor, you may need more support. Remember, that is okay. Reach out to a mental health professional to help you find ways to cope and heal.Trustworthy SourceAmerican Psychological AssociationLeading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologistsGo to source
When searching for a mental health professional, look for one who specializes in loss or trauma.
Method 3 of 3:Supporting a Coworker Who Experiences a Loss
1Send a note or flowers. If someone in your office has experienced loss, you may not want to extend your condolences in person. You or the affected person may not feel comfortable doing this. Instead, you can still show you care by sending them a note or flowers.
Don't go overboard. You can send a small bouquet of flowers or some other small gift, a card, or just an email that says, “I'm sorry for your loss.”
2Offer to help out with your coworker's workload. If your coworker has suffered a significant loss, be available to them. Ask them if there is anything work-related you can help them with or if you can take some of their work while they cope and recover.
You may say,"I am sorry for your loss. I would be willing to help you out around the office until you feel better. Is there anything I can do to help lighten your workload?"
3Offer to listen. Sometimes, having someone listen can be the most helpful way you can show support. When you listen to your coworker, don't offer empty words or try to make them feel better. Just let them know you are listening and that you are there for them.
For example, you may want to say,"I am sorry for your loss. I want you to know I am here to listen if you need someone to talk to."
If you have suffered a similar loss, you may want to share that information. Just make sure not to try to one-up or belittle their loss. You may say,"I'm sorry for your loss. I know what you're going through. My mother/daughter/spouse recently died. It is a difficult time. I am here if you need someone to help you through it."
4Be sensitive of your coworker's feelings. If your coworker has suffered loss, you should be mindful of what you say around them. It is easy to be flippant and treat the loss too lightly. Though you may not understand what they are going through, try to be understanding.
Avoid saying things like, “They're in a better place” or “You were lucky to have as long as you did.” You also shouldn't say things like, “At least they lived a long time” or “You are young; you can get married again/have more children.” These can be hurtful statements.
Refrain from passing judgment on the situation. For example, if someone died of lung cancer and smoked, don't imply that they caused their own death or deserved it.
Don't tell your coworker to “get back to normal” or “get back to yourself.” The process of grief can take a long time.