Supporting a Bereaved Coworker

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Thursday, October 12, 2023

When a coworker has a death in the family, it can be important to support them during their difficult time. There is no clear-cut or easy way to help someone who is grieving. But lending a supportive ear can be a good place to start. Below, we will discuss ways to support coworkers dealing with loss.

Grief in the Workplace

Grief is often unpredictable and comes in waves. Your coworker might seem OK one day, and a mess the next. And that is all right. People can also experience grief in different and unique ways. There is no “normal” way to grieve. It is also important to be mindful of cultural or religious differences in bereavement rituals. 

Changes in Productivity

It is important to understand that your coworker may not be able to keep up with their usual productivity during this time. It is important to be patient with them during this time. They may be more quiet than usual. They may be more distracted from their work or need longer to complete tasks. It is also vital to remember that there is no set timeline to “overcome” grief.

Supporting Your Coworker

There are many ways that you can support your loved one while they struggle with their grief. Even a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” can go a long way. Beyond that, there are plenty of ways to help and support them during this difficult time.

Talk to Them

Talking through grief can be helpful for some, but not all. Don’t be afraid to lend an ear if they are willing to talk about their loss. It is best not to pry, they will offer details that they are willing to give. Unless they ask for advice, try not to give opinions on the matter. Often, the bereaved just need a friend to listen so that they can let out some feelings. 

Have Tissues Available

People coping with grief may be overcome with emotions at any time. It won’t hurt to have a tissue box nearby if they need it. Offer support, and try not to feel embarrassed by their crying. 

Offer Practical Support

You can do a lot more than just telling them “Let me know if you need anything.” Rather, find a way to help them and do it. Whether it's assisting with a work task or helping them outside of work, it can be a nice idea to offer support.
Don’t take it personally if they reject help. Your other coworkers might also be lending a hand. Some people dealing with grief prefer a workload to take their minds off of things. It is best to respect their decision, but offer help if needed. 

Be Patient

Grief isn’t something that goes away after a week. Try your best to be patient with your bereaving coworker during these difficult times. You don’t know all that they are going through at home. Just try your best to give them the grace they deserve for their loss. 

Supporting Remote Coworkers

If a remote worker is the one grieving, it may be a good idea to shoot them a message of support or offer to lend an ear if they need it. Avoid bringing up their loss in a conference meeting or other public communication. They may not feel comfortable talking about their loss to an audience. It is easy to feel lonely during bereavement, especially when working from home. 
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are several resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here. 
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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