Grief in the Work Place: A Guide to Compassionate Support

June 5, 2024 ◊ By Elisa Everts ◊

Grief in the Work Place: A Guide to Compassionate Support

When you grieve, you grieve all the time. Sure, grief is personal, but you don't stop being a person at work! It’s not easy to compartmentalize (though helpful when you can) and thus your early grief (especially) is likely to spill over into your work life. How do we manage bereavement at work?

It’s important to foster a safe, compassionate and supportive workplace culture. Here are a few ideas about how we can do that.

1. Recognizing the Impact of Grief: Bereavement has a profound impact on individuals. It deeply affects their emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The first step to creating a workplace culture that prioritizes empathy and support is simply to acknowledge how far reaching the impact of grief is.

2. Implementing Compassionate Policies: Companies can demonstrate empathy by implementing compassionate bereavement policies. HR needs to provide policies that are clear and supportive. They need to address the verry real needs of grieving employees, including flexible leave arrangements and access to counseling services. Such policies will, contribute to a workplace that values the well-being of its team members.

3. Open Communication and Transparency: Encouraging open communication and being transparent is really important. Employees who are grieving should feel at ease talking about their situation with supervisors and colleagues. This helps create a space where everyone can understand and support each other.

4. Flexible Work Arrangements: It's really important to understand the need for flexibility when employees are grieving. Offering options like working from home or adjusting their schedules can help them manage their grief while still keeping up with their work.

5. Creating a Supportive Work Environment: Create a caring workplace by valuing empathy and compassion. Colleagues can support each other by listening, checking in on grieving coworkers, and being understanding of their needs during tough times.

6. Providing Grief Resources: Companies can help employees deal with loss by providing resources on grief and bereavement. This might include information on counseling services, support groups, and helpful reading materials on coping with grief.

7. Training and Sensitivity Workshops: Hosting training and sensitivity workshops can boost everyone's understanding of grief in the workplace. These sessions help colleagues and supervisors learn how to better support grieving individuals, creating a more empathetic and respectful environment.

8. Creating Memorial Spaces: Creating memorial spaces at work gives employees a place to honor and remember their loved ones. It could be a designated area, a memorial board, or even virtual spaces where colleagues can share memories and support each other.

9. Respecting Individual Grieving Styles: Grieving is very personal, and everyone handles it differently. By respecting these different ways of grieving and giving employees the space to grieve in their own time and way, we help create a caring and compassionate workplace.

10. Long-Term Support: Grief doesn’t follow a set timeline, so ongoing support is really important. Companies should keep checking in on grieving employees, offering resources, and making sure compassionate policies are in place long after the initial loss.

In conclusion, dealing with bereavement at work is delicate and needs a thoughtful approach. By creating a workplace culture that values empathy, open communication, and continuous support, companies can make employees feel valued and understood during tough times. Supporting each other through loss helps make the workplace a place of professional growth and a community of compassionate understanding and shared humanity.

Addressing bereavement in the workplace is one of the very important ways that we can manage hope.

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About the author

Dr. Elisa Everts is the founder of Evertree Hope Management and is a dynamic public speaker, author and trainer. Dr Everts is passionate about helping cancer patients and bereaved people in their quest to survive and live a full life during and after cancer and grief. She has the personal experience of surviving Stage IV cancer and the loss of many loved ones. She understands the challenges inherent in these experiences and the importance of cultivating hope through the stories we tell others, and even more importantly, to ourselves.

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Elisa Everts, phd

Speaker | Author | Educator

Finding Hope in Cancer & Grief

Elisa Everts, phd

Speaker | Author | Educator

Finding Hope in Cancer & Grief

I speak to medical professionals and patients, helping them provide hope when there seems to be none. If you or your organization need someone to help process the difficult topics of cancer and grief, let's set up a complimentary call, 703-656-6691,

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