Loss is a part of life. After a loss, it’s often difficult to continue on with your normal routine, which usually includes returning to work. Yet you worry because you aren’t sure how people at the workplace will treat you. You are also at odds in your own self.
On one hand, you want to be allowed to grieve, to mourn the loss. On the other, you want or need to go on with your life which may not include blending work and your private world.
It’s difficult for co-workers as well. Many times, people want to share condolences, acknowledge your grief, and offer support. Perhaps the loved one was known by co-workers so it’s something of a loss for them as well. To help make this as smooth a transition as possible for all, each party involved can contribute.
For the bereaved, try to be patient with the co-workers and realize they care. They may be grieving with you from the memory of their own, older loss or perhaps they knew the person you mourn for. It is a way to unite in a painful situation and it may be a help to everyone.
As an employer, if the loss is close to home for the employees or something devastating, it may be helpful to offer a grief counselor. While a counselor is helpful for short term support or mild issues, keep in mind that everyone grieves differently*.
For the employer and co-workers, consider that the person who suffered the loss may be out of sync for a bit of time. Allow him or her that period and try not to hold the person to the normal expectations and time lines. People grieve differently and in their own time. Time is truly the best healer. The bereaved may exhibit such behaviors as being a bit scattered, forgetful, delayed, quiet, have bouts of emotional outbursts, get teary eyed, and be sad. As an employer and co-worker, a few helpful things you can offer include being willing to listen though try not to offer unsolicited advice, being patient, and not judging or demanding certain behaviors for awhile.
(*If you are having a strong reaction, whether you are the griever, a co- worker, or someone else at the job site and saw a provided grief counselor though it didn’t ease your suffering, avoid talking negatively about the assistance. It may not have helped you but it may have helped others. And it may also mean you have some more intense issues to deal with than talking to someone for a few minutes can resolve. You may want to consider getting additional personal assistance. Pain hurts, no doubt. Though others are working through the issue as well and out of respect for them, please avoid insulting counselors and others who are trying to help.)