A significant portion of adult life happens at work, and much of this time may be spent surrounded by co-workers. When a co-worker dies, the effects can be devastating and can be felt much more deeply than expected.
Even if the relationship was not especially close or personal, there is a void left by someone who was a part of your daily life. This can lead to feelings of confusion, sadness, anger, and even guilt, depending on the circumstances.
Here are some helpful tips if you find yourself having difficulty coping with the death of a co-worker.
Communicate your grief to other co-workers.
Discussing sensitive topics like death and grief can be challenging, especially in a workplace scenario. If a co-worker dies, however, it can help to talk about the loss with your colleagues.
This is not an opportunity to gossip or spread rumors. Instead, use this time to connect with the people who share office space with you. The remote or hybrid nature of many jobs can complicate matters, so do your best to reach out to fellow co-workers, even if it’s over Zoom or via email.
Remember that everyone grieves differently.
Do your best to remember that everyone’s grief journey is unique. Yours may or may not last longer than another co-worker’s or could involve intense feelings. Have patience in the days, weeks, or even months going forward.
If your manager or HR department organizes a gathering or grief support group, try to participate. Getting together can bring about a sense of shared loss and promote healing on an individual and group level.
Make time outside of work for reflection.
Though it’s often encouraged to leave office-related issues at the office, it may be helpful to spend some time reflecting on the loss of a co-worker outside of a work environment. This can give you space to process what this person meant to you and envision how your life will look different without them in the future.
Take a vacation day.
If you had a close friendship with your co-worker or feel significantly impacted by their death, spend a personal or vacation day considering all that they meant to you. Take a walk on a nature trail or take part in another activity you find restorative and calming.
If you find yourself experiencing lasting or debilitating feelings of grief after the loss of a co-worker, we recommend seeking professional help. Our caring team can put you in touch with local grief counselors and therapists in San Francisco or the Bay Area. Contact our compassionate staff anytime 24/7 for assistance.