Coping with loss and grief at work

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No one is ever fully prepared for the death of a valued co-worker. You may find it hard to accept that the person is really “gone.” Or you may wonder how your team can function without someone who was such an important or well-liked member of the team. LifeWorks can help you cope.

When a co-worker dies you may feel numb or shocked at first. If you have worked closely with the person for years, you may feel as though tragedy had struck a member of your own family. Here are some ways to cope:

Expect to have many emotions

After learning that someone has died you may have very intense feelings—fear, anger, shock, guilt, confusion, or sadness. You may also have questions about your own mortality or wonder if the same thing could happen to you. Keep in mind that all of these emotions are a normal part of grief and usually ease with time.

Remember that everybody grieves in a different way

Your response to a death may be very different from that of the people around you. Allow your co-workers to grieve in their own way—especially if they didn’t know the person as well as you did. And try not to make judgments about how they or you ”should” or ”shouldn’t” be feeling.

Talk to others about how you’re feeling

It’s normal to feel very sad or have trouble concentrating when a co-worker dies, but if you find that you’re unable to resume normal work patterns after a while, talk with someone who may be able to give you ideas on how to cope—your LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Also consider reaching out to a friend, family member, co-worker or manager.

Recognize the challenge of grieving from a distance

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives—including how we cope with death. Families are unable to touch or even be in the same room as loved ones who have died for fear of becoming infected. Try to remain in touch with family or friends who share your loss. When you are unable to be physically present, this means phoning them, texting them, arranging a video chat, or sending an email or letter. The coronavirus pandemic won’t last forever, and once restrictions have been eased there will be an opportunity to remember the person you lost with those that are close to you at a commemoration event.

Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

If you’re struggling with a loss, or any other concern related to COVID-19, your assistance program is here to help. Call to be connected with LifeWorks’ trusted consultants.


Access your Wellbeing and Employee Assistance Program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at workhealthlife.com or login.lifeworks.com.