Dealing with Grief in the Workplace
By James F Weinsier
Sooner, or later, everyone loses loved ones – that’s life. Although
the circumstances can be vastly different, it’s expected to be in
the natural course of events; a chronological progression from
oldest family members on down. Even when the passing of a loved one
is on the horizon – whether naturally from old age, or a critical
illness – there’s disbelief when the event finally takes place. An
unexpected death makes matters even worse. Emotions jump right off
the scale when the occurrence combines the both an unnatural
as well as an atypical event, such as the loss of a
child or grandchild.
today’s business world, it’s hard enough to sort out problems in the
best of times. Just imagine how difficult it is to continue working
with the additional emotional stress of a loss. You’re trying to
hold the all pieces together at the office, and your last bit of
contact with reality is hanging on by the fingertips.
Here are some tried and proven self-help
antidotes to accelerate the recovery process:
Move yourself up on the priority
list. First, do whatever it takes to settle yourself down before
returning to work. There’s nothing wrong with stepping out of the
picture for a moment to take an escape break. If you’re a wreck, you
aren’t any good to your boss or co-workers who need you.
Consider getting help, professional
or personal. Even if your company has an Employee Assistance
Plan, extended therapy can be extremely expensive. It’s most likely
out of the question for those without health insurance coverage.
Other options are the Internet, library or a bookstore. Though the
anonymity feature of this route may appeal to some, muddling through
an endless sea of information is the last thing you need to be
In times of loss you need a support
group. It’s important to seek out a hand-chosen group of good
listeners (some of which can act as a sounding board) comprised of
co-workers, strong family members and the closest of friends, all of
whom genuinely care for your well-being.
Approach office mates. They may
not offer help because they believe you have enough. The act of
asking puts the matter in a whole different light. It lets them know
their help is wanted. It takes awkward out of the equation, and
gives the friend a feeling of importance, while offering an
opportunity for gratification. Asking for help can range from
assistance with practical tasks such as rescheduling appointments to
something more personal like hanging out after hours to blow off
some steam. Anything you are willing to delegate, including venting,
is letting someone else carry a piece of your burden, and will
ensure your plate doesn’t get too full too fast. On the other hand,
if you don’t speak up, no one will know what you need.
Reflect on the memories. Leave
the photos on your desk and share them with others, or just look at
the pictures alone. In spite of the loss, the time spent together
and fond memories will always be there.
Write down the things never said.
Sometimes writing is easier than talking about your inner feelings
with others. You can simply jot down little notes and put them into
a keepsake journal. Or, write a long letter. In either case, you can
take the opportunity as a do-over (of sorts), thoughtfully writing
down the things you regret not having said when the time was right.
Avoid setting a timeline on recovery.
No matter what kind of deadlines you have, you shouldn’t put undue
pressure on yourself to get back on track and into a normal routine;
nor, should you be pressured or influenced by the opinions of
others. “All in due time” is the operative phrase. However, be sure
to keep your employer informed if projects begin to back-up and
deadlines draw near. Your proactive communication will aid in their
Think positive. Apply the old
saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining” to the situation. Feeling
sad and sorry for yourself has its appropriate time and place in the
grieving process … but after you’ve forged through these feelings,
it’s important to let them go and start living again. While letting
go of the coattails of sad, hurt and sorrow, grab onto some that
will lift you up. Volunteer or donate to a charity that’s linked in
some way to the loss; help fellow employees by sharing your healing
experience, or simply resume your career the way your loved one
would have wanted.
These are a few examples. The list goes on and on … It’s really a
matter of what you believe will work for you as an individual.
While some remedies for grief may have proven to be more effective
than others, and supposedly “time heals all wounds,” rest assured
there’s no panacea.
Read other articles and learn more about
James F Weinsier.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and