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How to Handle the Loss of a Coworker


Bereavement Relief

Posted On: May 24, 2017

How to Handle the Loss of a Coworker

On the surface, losing a coworker might not seem like a huge impact, unless you were particularly close. The truth is that even if you aren't friends with a colleague outside of work, losing her or him still has a tremendous effect on your life. When you think about it, you spend more time around the people you work with than you do with anyone else. Your colleagues are like members of your extended family. You get extremely close to some of them, but you maintain cordial, respectful relationships with most of them. The death of someone you work with thus affects you in ways you might not imagine—personally and professionally, emotionally and physically, even mentally.

Acknowledge How You Feel

The death of a coworker can be complicated depending on your relationship. It's hard to mourn someone you didn't know well, but over time, you'll see all the ways the loss of a colleague affects your working life. It's not uncommon to view a coworker's death in comparison to your own mortality, especially if you're of an age. Losing someone you're close to, whether it's a work buddy or a working relationship that grew into a genuine friendship, hits you just as hard as the death of any other friend. Be open about whatever you're feeling. Don't try to sugarcoat it or downplay it. It's okay if you're not devastated, and it's perfectly all right if you are.

Reach Out to Your Other Coworkers

Whatever you're feeling, the odds are good that many of your coworkers feel the same way. You're all going through this together. Everyone in the office lost the same person. Reach out to your colleagues so you can support each other. Let them know they aren't alone and accept their friendship, as well.

Look into Getting Help

Your office might offer assistance programs for employees, which should include counseling services. Some businesses bring in grief counselors following the death of a staff member. You might want to talk to your boss about that possibility if it's not currently available. Take advantage if your office provides such services. It's always helpful to have someone to talk to about your grief.

Have a Memorial at Work

While it's lovely to attend the viewing or funeral of a colleague, not everyone feels comfortable doing so. Besides that, you all knew each other at work. It's fitting to have a memorial service of some kind at the office, even if it's simply a moment of silence or a memory circle. Personal you can put up a photograph of your departed coworker or plant a tree in the courtyard.

The loss of anyone you see on a day-to-day basis is painful. The experience affects you in ways you can't imagine. Have you ever lost a coworker?