Navigating Grief In The Workplace: A Practical Guide

Grief is an emotional experience common to many people. We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives, and most of us have been there when a close friend or family member has lost someone they love. 

When you’re grieving, it can be helpful to talk about your feelings with others who are going through the same thing and in particular with people who have gone through the same experience you are now facing. 

But how do you find those people? If you’re like me, then your work is where you spend most of your time outside of home and family obligations, so I thought it would make sense if we talked about grief from that perspective: 

What’s different about grief at work than anywhere else? How does it feel when someone close dies unexpectedly? And most importantly: How can we help each other deal with these difficult situations when they arise?

GRIEF AT WORK | Coping with Grief at Work
Building a support system can be helpful when dealing with grief.
Maintaining professionalism and productivity in the workplace while grieving can be challenging, but it’s important to take care of yourself.
Open communication with coworkers and bosses about grief can be difficult but is necessary to receive support.
Self-care is essential when managing grief at work to maintain mental health and well-being.
Additional resources, such as guides and research papers, are available to help employers and employees navigate grief in the workplace.

Tell Your Boss ASAP

One of the most important things you can do is tell your boss as soon as possible.

It can be hard to tell your boss about what’s happened, but it’s important to do so. It may seem unfeeling or insensitive if you don’t share the news with them right away and they find out from a third party later on, so bear in mind that doing this will help keep things running smoothly at work.

If you really feel like it would be too difficult to talk directly with them perhaps because they are a close friend or family member of yours you could also consider sending an email explaining the situation instead of speaking face-to-face (this is especially true if working remotely). 

This way, there is more room for open dialogue without making things uncomfortable by bringing up personal matters that might make either person feel uncomfortable.

Also worth noting: If someone else dies who works at your company but not under your direct supervision (for example, upper management), then it’s probably best not mention anything unless asked directly by higher ups themselves; otherwise it might seem like gossiping within company walls which isn’t something anyone wants!

“Having a support system is crucial when dealing with grief, as it can provide comfort and help you cope during difficult times. Learn more about the power of a support system during times of grief by checking out our guide.” – The Power of a Support System During Times of Grief

Take Time, But Not Too Much

When it comes to your grieving process, there’s a delicate balance between taking care of yourself and moving on. 

You can’t let grief consume you so much that you become a liability in the office. However, it’s also important not to rush through the mourning process.

While there’s no set time frame for how long it takes people to recover from loss, studies show that most people take anywhere from six weeks to six months before they feel like themselves again and are able to function normally at work.

Take time to process and work through your grief.Don’t isolate yourself from your colleagues or team.
Seek professional help if needed.Don’t take too much time off from work that might affect your job or impact productivity.
Communicate with your manager, team or colleagues about your situation.Don’t make work the only focus of your life or refuse to take any time off, if needed.

Be Real About Your Limits

Your employer will understand if you say, “I’m not feeling up to coming in today,” or if you need to take a few days off after a loved one passes away. It’s okay to ask for help, too—it’s better than burning out and jeopardizing your job performance later on.

Finally, don’t overcommit yourself by saying yes when you really should be saying no. You’ll feel stressed out and overwhelmed right now; adding work-related stress on top of that can make it even harder for you to cope with grief. 

Set reasonable expectations and goals for yourself.Don’t push yourself too hard or take on too much work that might affect your health or well-being.
Be honest with yourself and others about what you can and cannot do.Don’t pretend that everything is okay or try to handle everything yourself.
Ask for help if needed and delegate tasks to your team or colleagues.Don’t feel guilty or weak for needing assistance or support.

So listen to what your body and mind are telling you: it’s okay (and expected) for employers and coworkers alike to give some space as long as they know there’s still plenty of work getting done without them being there physically all the time

“Losing a loved one can be especially challenging in a professional setting, but it’s important to maintain productivity and professionalism in the workplace. Our guide on dealing with loss in the workplace provides tips and strategies to help you navigate this difficult time.” – Dealing with Loss in the Workplace: How to Maintain Professionalism and Productivity

Ask For Support

If you’re finding it hard to manage your grief at work, ask for support.

You may need a lot of help, or just some advice, but don’t be afraid to ask. Your boss and colleagues are there to help you get through this difficult time. 

The same goes for family and friends, as well as the wider community (e.g., social workers). If you think that talking with someone who is trained in grief counseling could give you perspective and help relieve some of the stress associated with coping with death in the workplace, then explore this option as well.

Know It’s Okay To Talk About It

It can be hard to know when and how to talk about your loss. Here are some tips:

Know that it’s okay for you to talk about it. Don’t feel guilty for grieving or for taking time off of work, even if others don’t understand why. Your employer should accommodate you as much as possible during this difficult time, and they will likely not want to see you suffer at the office either!

If someone else brings up a loved one who has passed away or experienced some other loss (maybe they lost their job), let them know that you are there if they need someone to talk with. You can ask them what helped them cope, or offer tips from your own experience if they seem open to hearing about it.

Remember not everyone will want advice or support; some people prefer space while they process their feelings and emotions on their own terms.

If someone doesn’t want your help, respect his/her wishes and move on—don’t try pushing yourself into what’s private territory.

Just because someone doesn’t seem open now doesn’t mean he/she won’t later on in life.

Be patient – we all grieve differently and at different rates of speed depending on personality type so don’t expect anyone else’s grief journey will match yours exactly.

Express your feelings and emotions with someone you trust.Don’t feel guilty or ashamed of talking about your grief.
Be open and empathetic when someone shares their grief or loss with you.Don’t judge, dismiss, or ignore someone’s feelings or emotions.
Encourage and support colleagues or team members who are struggling with grief.Don’t try to fix someone’s problem or offer unsolicited advice.

While we each experience loss differently based upon our personalities, age groups within society tend reflect similar patterns when dealing with death so keep an eye out for these types while navigating through unknown territory where no map exists yet (i’ve created one based upon my own experiences).

“Managing grief and loss while at work can be overwhelming, but taking care of yourself is key to maintaining your mental health and wellbeing. Check out our guide for 15 tips on managing grief and loss at work.” – 15 Tips for Managing Grief and Loss at Work

Make The Space You Need For Yourself

In order to make sure that you are able to focus on work, it is best if you can find a private space where you will not be disturbed. If this is not possible at your office or job site, try to find a quiet spot where you can sit down and get your head straight.

If working from home is something that would be beneficial for you during this time of grieving, then consider making the necessary arrangements with your employer. It might be helpful to talk with them about how they would like things handled while they are out of the office due to illness or other personal reasons (i.e., bereavement leave).

Remember To Practice Self-Care

It is vital to remember that self-care is important. Sleep, exercise, diet, and other habits are all things that you should be making time for. 

Take time to relax and unwind after a stressful day at work. You should not neglect your own health and well-being because it will only add stress on top of what you’re already dealing with in the workplace.

“Talking about grief with coworkers and bosses can be uncomfortable, but it’s important to have open communication to ensure you have the support you need. Our guide on how to talk about grief and loss with your boss and coworkers provides tips for approaching these conversations.” – How to Talk About Grief and Loss with Your Boss and Coworkers

Get The Sleep You Need

It is well known that getting the sleep you need is vitally important for your overall health and wellbeing. Sleep deprivation can not only make you feel physically exhausted, it also impacts your mental health as well. 

When you are grieving a loss in particular, it’s essential to get plenty of rest so that you can function at your best at work and be there for those who rely on you.

The importance of adequate sleep cannot be overstated when it comes to coping with grief. However, many people struggle with insomnia or other sleeping disorders when they’re trying to get through an emotional time like this. 

“Self-care is essential when managing grief at work, as it can help you maintain your emotional and mental health. Learn more about the role of self-care in managing grief at work by checking out our guide.” – The Role of Self-Care in Managing Grief at Work


This can be a lonely and difficult time for you, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember to talk with your boss about what you need in the workplace. If they don’t already have procedures in place for helping employees who are grieving, ask them to consider creating one. 

Keep your colleagues updated on how you are doing and let them know if there are things they can do to help out. 

Take care of yourself by getting enough rest each night so that you can keep going through this process!

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about grief in the workplace, check out these resources:

Leader’s Guide to Grief: This guide provides leaders with practical advice on how to support employees through grief and loss, including how to communicate effectively and create a supportive workplace culture.

Grief and Loss in the Workplace: Navigating the Move-On and Move-Forward Debate for Non-Bereavement Grief: This research paper explores the challenges of addressing grief and loss in the workplace, including non-bereavement grief, and provides recommendations for creating a supportive work environment.


What is grief in the workplace?

Grief in the workplace refers to the experience of employees who are dealing with the death or loss of a loved one, as well as other types of grief and loss that may occur in a work context, such as job loss or changes in the workplace.

How can employers support employees through grief?

Employers can support employees through grief by creating a compassionate and supportive workplace culture, providing time off and flexible work arrangements, offering employee assistance programs, and providing resources and training on how to communicate effectively with grieving employees.

How can employees navigate grief in the workplace?

Employees can navigate grief in the workplace by seeking support from their employer, coworkers, and loved ones, taking time off if necessary, and prioritizing self-care and self-compassion. It’s important to communicate with your employer and coworkers about your needs and to take steps to manage your grief and emotions.