Well in Mind: 7 Tips For Thoughtfully Dealing With Grief In The Workplace

You may have had a loss and are having a hard time communicating your bereavement needs.  Maybe you feel uneasy about how to navigate a co-worker’s grief.  Death is a topic that should be handled delicately, but not ignored.

If You Have A Co-Worker That Is Navigating Grief:

  1. Ask Them What They Need: Grief is unpredictable and affects different people in different ways.  Someone can seem physically present and responsive, but emotionally can be a world away.  It’s best to have an open, candid conversation where you can ask how you can best support them.
  2. Understand Work Isn’t A Priority Right Now:  When grief is at the forefront of our minds, it shifts our priority and focus away.   Grief demands honesty, attention, and a re-evaluation of values, all of which distract from the professional goal.  Give your co-worker grace. 
  3. Be Human:  This means letting the employee know you’re there for them.  Support is key when a person is grieving, and comfort is often the thing they will search for the most.  

If You Are Experiencing Grief And Continuing To Work:

  1. Be Upfront with Your Employer:  As quickly as you feel comfortable, let your boss know what you’re experiencing.  They can’t support you if they don’t know what’s going on.
  2. Be Patient with Yourself—And Ask Others To Be, Too: Rather than pressuring yourself to perform at your top level, it’s vital to be patient with your feelings.  If you feel overwhelmed by the sadness, you should allow yourself to feel it.  If there are days where you feel energized and motivated at work, don’t guilt yourself about that either.
  3. Take More Breaks:  When you return to work, add breaks in your calendar to do anything that is comforting.   There is an experience called ‘Grief Brain.’ Loss makes it hard to concentrate. Our usual ability to multitask and to be productive may be hindered, so you should allow extra time for familiar tasks.
  4. Build Your Professional And Personal Support Network:  Don’t be afraid to lean on your people, from close friends to family members.  Find professional support via a mental health counselor or grief groups.  It is never good to internalize or bottle up your feelings and emotions.  

Well In Mind is here for you.  Call 815-933-2240 to schedule an appointment or to ask about your EAP benefits.