Understanding Grief And Loss In The Workplace.
Grief in the workplace
- Can have a profound effect on staff members and impact various aspects of the workplace.
- Occurs when you or a co-worker experiences a personal loss or loss within in the workplace such as a death.
- Can cause colleagues to experience disenfranchised grief. (Grief that is unacknowledged)
What is grief?
- Grief is a normal response to loss; it is not a disease or problem that needs fixing.
- Grief affects us emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.
- Bereavement refers to the period of mourning and grief following the death of a beloved person. It is the state or fact of suffering the death of a loved one.
- Anticipatory grief refers to a grief reaction that occurs before an impending loss. Typically, the impending loss is a death of someone close due to illness but it can also be experienced by dying individuals themselves.
Grief & on-the-job performance
- Grief can affect an employee’s on-the-job performance and can manifest through:
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty with decision-making
- Memory lapses
- Increased risk of illness or injury
- Grief is a process and a person does not simply ‘snap out of it’.
- Providing an employee with flexible workload can help facilitate productivity.
Key leadership tasks for managers
- Review and/or help develop company policies on bereavement.
- Have a plan in place for dealing with workplace grief.
- Create a workplace environment that acknowledges the grief process.
- Develop ways to effectively address the grieving employee’s morale and work capacity.
- Communicate with staff team.
- Mobilize people and resources.
- Seek support to lead the organization’s learning.
- Give staff time and space to deal with the death.
- Adjust employee’s workload.
- Ensure that your employee has access to your EAP service provider.
Helping a grieving co-worker: “Do…”
- Allow people to talk about their grief.
- Honor their emotions.
- Acknowledge their tears and other expressions of grief without judgment.
- Attend the funeral or memorial service if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Write a note of support or encouragement.
- Encourage them to seek out someone who can support them.
- Encourage self-care.
- Be patient with them – grief can be a long process.
- Maintain your support through the months ahead.
- Have resources handy.
- Respect confidentiality and avoid gossip.
- Be compassionate.
Helping a grieving co-worker: “Don’t…”
- Avoid saying anything; because saying ‘nothing’ is saying something!
- Worry about what to say – Just Listen!
- Avoid your co-worker or mentioning the deceased person’s name.
- Assume you know how they feel.
- Ignore or downplay their loss.
- Be afraid of their suffering. Expect and be okay with tears as these are a normal part of the grieving process.
Finding the “right” words
Instead of saying: “How are you today?”
You could say: “How are you coping/managing today.”
Instead of saying: “I understand just how you feel.”
You could say: “I cannot imagine how you are feeling.”
Instead of saying: “Time heals all wounds.”
You could say: “Take the time you need and be patient and gentle with yourself.”
Instead of saying: “At least he/she is no longer in pain.”
You could say: “I am sad for your loss.”
Instead of saying: “It’s God’s will” or “God does not give us anything we cannot handle.”
“I am thinking about you.”
Hospice of Waterloo Region – We Can Help!
- We offer weekly Bereavement Walking Groups for the bereaved in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.
- Our MSW’s offer 1:1 counselling for those who are supporting someone approaching end of life or have experienced the death of a loved one in the last 2 years.
- We can refer the bereaved to traditional bereavement support groups or professional counseling agencies if they require additional support.
Call Us Today At 519.743.4114