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Grief at Work

Everyone experiences grief. Loss of loved ones, loss of pets, loss of friends – grief comes in multiple formats and at any time in our life. Since grief comes in stages, it is often not completely or properly addressed in a professional environment.

According to Healthline*, there are 5 main types of grief:

  1. Anticipatory grief – When you know a loss is coming

  2. Inhibited grief – When you suppress your emotional grief

  3. Absent grief – Forms when a person is in denial

  4. Delayed grief – Comes after a loss (weeks, months, even years)

  5. Disenfranchised grief – A grief that society does not recognize (i.e. the loss of a pet)

Is there an official process?

Often, businesses and organizations address grief by offering PTO, therapy and extended leave options in their employee manuals. HR departments describe the process surrounding grief during initial employee onboarding. However, smaller businesses without HR support might struggle to provide employees with this information upon hiring.

How can you help a grieving co-worker?

Depending on the situation, open and honest conversations with your colleagues help create a supportive environment that encourages people to talk about their emotions. If you are in an office, look-out for signs of distress in your colleagues. Being patient, listening without judgement and a willingness to offer support can go a long way helping someone cope with their grief.

How should I handle my grief at work?

As a grieving employee, take some time for yourself. Using time to focus on your own wellbeing will help you stay emotionally healthy. Breaks throughout the day, meditating or engaging in physical activity is encouraged and is instrumental in managing stress and dealing with grief. Ask questions. Make sure you are aware of benefits your company offers and take advantage of PTO or WFH options.

Grief is a process. The process is different for every person. As a professional, know your benefits, ask for help and never be afraid to express your feelings.

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