It is inevitable that one of your co-workers deal with grief brought about by a loss of a loved one. However, there is no universal workplace manual which will provide you with a step-by-step process to address your co-worker’s grief. Grief is a typical response to loss. However, it might lead to mental health disorders. Hence, it is crucial that you help them with their healing process.
Before you start offering a hand in their struggles or insisting that they visit BetterHelp, it is critical to determine whether they are indeed struggling with grief. It might be offensive for your co-worker if you assist them with their healing process without knowing that they are not facing it. Here are some of the signs that your co-worker is experiencing grief:
- Low productivity due to the inability to concentrate
- Lack of motivation
- Signs of fatigue and inability to sleep
- High turnover
- Expressing mood swings and anger
- Symptoms of depression
“Understandably, grief is complicated and we sometimes wonder if the pain will ever end. We go through a variety of emotional experiences such as anger, confusion, and sadness.” Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP said. Once you observe that your co-worker shows most of these signs, that’s the signal you need to start helping them with their healing process.
During The Time Of Loss
“Each person’s experience of grief is unique, so it’s unlikely that any one individual’s experience will be the same as another’s.” That is according to Lindsay Henderson, Psy.D. During the time of loss, it is essential that your co-worker feel your support. It is the instance they need someone to help them overcome the said tragedy. Some of the ways to show your support to a grieving employee include:
- Attend the funeral service. Pay your respect to the family to show that you care for them.
- Show collective effort by sending flowers or cards on behalf of the team or the department.
- Avoid saying clichés such as:
- “You will eventually get out of this slump. Time heals all things.”
- “You are never given with situations that you cannot handle.”
- “Keep yourself busy. You’ll eventually move on from this.”
- Ask the grieving employee with what your team or yourself can do to assist them in their grief.
- Be open when the employee needs someone to talk to about their loss
While They Are Out
As a co-worker, it is also essential that you offer your assistance to the work he or she has left. In this way, it will be more manageable for them when they return. This initiative will also avoid a lag in your business’ operations. While they are out, it is best if you help them through the following ways:
- If you are the boss, go through the workload they left. Once you have organized everything, you need to distribute the tasks to available employees. Make sure to prioritize the tasks first before allocating so it won’t be a burden to them as well. It will also be helpful if you reschedule or cancel any meetings during their absence.
- You should also respect their privacy. It is okay to ask what they are feeling and how they are doing once they are away. However, never assume that they need you there to process their loss. Just listen and only offer advice if they ask you to.
- Speak to your boss how you can help support the family and take action. You may spearhead fundraisers and other events which will provide monetary benefits to the family. Make sure to consult this to the grieving individual first.
When They Return
When your co-worker returns, make sure to welcome them with open arms. Treat them like the usual as much as possible, so they won’t feel that you are pitying them. Also ensure that you show your concern, without overstepping your boundaries, and ask what you can do to help. Be a shoulder to cry on in case they need someone to vent out to.
“Individuals may avoid discussing the loss as well as avoid people or places that are associated with their grief. This experience can put an individual in a vulnerable position with regard to their mental health.” Tali Yuz Berliner, Psy.D. explains. While it is difficult to help your co-worker overcome their grief, you also have to recognize that the workplace can be an encouraging and comforting place for those struggling with loss. You have to understand what they are feeling and carefully plan out a proper approach.