Everyone experiences grief differently. When a coworker is grieving the loss of a loved one, the impact to the workplace may be substantial. Office mates share a unique connection; and close colleagues may feel like extended family. Depending on the relationship, there are many appropriate ways to support a grieving coworker.
It’s helpful to first understand that many kinds of loss can impair a collegue’s work performance, including:
- Death of parent, child, family member, friend or colleague
- Infertility, miscarriage or stillbirth
- Death of a pet
- Diagnosis of serious illness
Grief is a normal, healthy response to loss that results in physical, emotional, psychological and social reactions. Anger, fear, frustration, loneliness and guilt are all part of the natural grief process.
Grieving people also experience sadness, confusion and isolation. Grief may seem overwhelming and make it challenging to concentrate on work for some time after a loss. Coworkers may be unable to sufficiently process their grief before they must return to their normal work routine.
An important first step to aid a grieving coworker is to provide an environment that is supportive. It is helpful to acknowledge their loss and to support their healing and recovery.