Dealing With Grief In The Workplace

Dealing with grief in the workplace is an essential topic as it affects not only the grieving individual but also their colleagues and the overall productivity of the workplace. Grief, the emotional response to loss, can manifest differently and significantly impact an individual’s mental and physical well-being. It can also affect their work performance, leading to absenteeism, decreased productivity, and other challenges. It’s important for employers, managers, and colleagues to understand grief and how to support employees who are going through this difficult time. 

How Are We Affected by grief?

Grief is the emotional affects in response to a loss or a significant change in one’s life. Grieving can result from a loss, such as a loved one, a job, a relationship ending, or any other event that causes a significant change in one’s life. Grief is a regular response to loss but can also be complicated and painful.

Individuals may experience various emotions when grieving, such as sadness, anger, guilt, and even numbness. These emotions can be intense and overwhelming and affect an individual’s mental and physical well-being. Grief can also manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite, and difficulty sleeping. The duration of grief also varies depending on the person and the type of loss. Grief can be acute, an intense short-term experience of grief, or a chronic, and more prolonged process.

Returning To Work After A Bereavement

Returning to work after going through loss is an incredibly challenging process. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no correct time to return to work. It is essential to communicate with your employer and let them know what you need in terms of time off and support. Employers should understand your situation, and many have bereavement policies to support employees during this time. Creating an action plan with your supervisor to manage your workload and responsibilities during this time may be helpful. It’s also essential to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally and consider seeking resources such as employee assistance programs or counselling services.

Being honest with your colleagues and supervisor about what you are going through is also essential. Ensure you allow time to grieve and be kind to yourself. Returning to work can be a challenging step in the grieving process. Still, it can also be important in moving forward and finding a new normal.

Grief In The Workplace

How does grief affect our work?

  • Difficulty focusing and staying motivated
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Difficulty communicating with colleagues
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Difficulty balancing personal and professional lives
  • Increased risk of burnout, depression, or other mental health conditions
  • It can be challenging to navigate in the workplace.

Ways For Managers And Colleagues To Support Employees Who Are Grieving

Managers and colleagues play an essential role in supporting employees who are grieving. It’s important to understand that grief is a natural and normal response to loss and can be difficult and painful. Managers and colleagues can support grieving employees by being understanding, compassionate, and respecting their needs.

One way to support grieving employees is by being flexible with their schedules. This may include allowing them to take time off, work from home, or adjust their hours. Managers and colleagues can also offer emotional support by being a listening ear and providing a space for employees to talk about their feelings and emotions.

Another way to support grieving employees is by providing resources and information about grief support services. This may include information about counselling services such as bereavement counselling, employee assistance programs, or community support groups.

It’s also important to be patient and understanding when an employee is grieving. They may need extra time to complete tasks or be more emotionally sensitive than usual. Showing empathy and being flexible with their needs can be very helpful for grieving employees.

Managers and colleagues must remember that grief is a personal and individual experience, and everyone grieves differently. Understanding and providing support can make a big difference for an employee going through this difficult time.

Bereavement Counselling and Returning to Work

Bereavement counselling can provide a much-needed space for individuals to process their grief and cope with the loss of a loved one. It can also help them navigate the challenges of returning to work and balancing their professional and personal lives. Grief can be all-consuming and can make it difficult to focus on daily tasks, and the added pressure of work responsibilities can make it even harder.

Grief In The Workplace

Through bereavement counselling, individuals can gain the support and tools they need to find a new normal and continue to honour the memory of their loved one while also taking care of themselves and their work life. It is important to keep in mind that healing is a unique process for everyone and it takes time to find a balance after such a profound loss.


In conclusion, dealing with grief in the workplace can be challenging. Still, it is essential to communicate your needs and take steps to manage your grief healthily. You can navigate this difficult time by speaking openly and honestly with your supervisor or human resources representative, taking time off if necessary, and seeking out resources such as employee assistance programs or counselling services.

Remember to be patient and allow yourself to grieve in your own time. It is important to build a support system at work, whether with your colleagues, supervisor or therapy program. Remember that healing takes time, and it is important to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally during this process.


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