Grieving in the Workplace
Coping With Loss
Grief is the process
Grief is the process of dealing with loss and it is a
normal part of life.
• Many kinds of loss can affect your performance
at work or that of your colleagues: divorce,
retirement, job loss, failure of a project and so on.
This tip sheet focuses on grief following the loss
of a loved one. The suggestions will help you
cope with your own loss or support a bereaved
Understanding grief and its effects
• Many of us experience powerful emotions when we’re
grieving. The stages of grief are shock, denial, anger,
bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance, which
may eventually move an individual into healing or
growth. Because grief is a very individual experience,
we may not experience all stages or we may go
through them in a different order.
• We can’t attach a timeline to grief—many signs of grief
may not appear until weeks or months after the loss.
It can impact
Working through grief
Many people find it difficult to work during the
early stages of bereavement. If possible, take
the time you need before you return to work.
A little help while you work it through
When you return to work:
Acknowledging your grief
• Your experience of grief is unique. How you grieve, and for
how long, cannot be compared to anyone else’s experience.
There is no set time by which you should be “over it” and
no set way you should handle your grief.
• Accept that you may experience overwhelming emotions at
times and in places that you can’t control. Even though
others may be uncomfortable with your grief, resist the
urge to ignore or deny your feelings. Instead, excuse
yourself and go where you can express your feelings, e.g.
your own office, an unoccupied meeting room or a nearby
• Acknowledging your grief could also mean bringing a photo
or memento of the person who died to work or
deliberately using the person’s name in conversation.
Accept support from your co-workers
Helping a grieving co-worker
Our Pluses and No Minuses
In a word
Don’t ignore the signs
Watch for warning signs of self-destructive
behaviour. If your co-worker seems to be
depending on drugs or alcohol to get through
this difficult time or appears severely depressed
or suicidal, it might be appropriate to talk with
your supervisor or human resources staff about
the situation. They may be able to arrange help
for your grieving co-worker.