Almost every company will offer some bereavement time off when an employee suffers a loss. This time off is intended to give the employee time to grieve and help them through this difficult time in their life. While time off is a vital part of the grieving process, the real work often starts when the employee returns to the office. This is when they need the support of their coworkers and managers to cope with the loss. Unfortunately, coworkers don’t always feel equipped to help colleagues through grief.
Getting Back to Normal
Some employees may want to get back to their regular work routine to enjoy a sense of normality again. This is a common coping technique, but don’t mistake this desire for normality as a sign that all is well. It’s still important to offer support and expect a slight dip in productivity. Coworkers can help by offering to take on extra responsibility so the grieving employee can take a few extra breaks throughout the day.
Another common coping mechanism is slipping into isolation. It’s expected that a grieving person won’t be the life of the party or as social as they have been in the past. However, it’s important to still include them in fun activities and encourage them to partake in social events. Invite them to lunch, or maybe even buy lunch to-go and eat with them at their desk.
Support Over Pity
One of the most difficult parts of helping a grieving coworker, or any grieving person, is making sure they don’t misinterpret your support as pity. It’s not always easy to walk this line, but you need to find a way to show that you’re going the extra mile for them because you care, not because you think they can’t handle it.
Working a 40-hour week means most people spend more time with their coworkers than with their families. This means it’s vitally important we know how to support each other at work and help coworkers get through difficult times.