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 co-worker. Understanding 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 park. • 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 and employer 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.
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