When a Coworker Dies

When a Coworker Dies

On 22 Aug 2019, in self-improvement

When a team member dies it can impact those in the workplace significantly. Sometimes team members become close friends and spend time together outside of work. Some keep their relationship at work but develop a close bond from working together.

Either way, you will mourn the death of your team member. If they were also a friend, your grief may be more intense.  If you and your team member weren't friends outside of work, or even particularly close, you will still experience a void in your life. While you may not grieve the loss as personally, it will affect you professionally, particularly if you relied on your team member to help you do your job.

Time to Grieve

Regardless of whether you were friends with your team member or they were a valued colleague, you will want time to work through your loss. However, when it comes to work, our commitment to take care of the communities we serve does not stop. Therefore, it is important to follow some simple ways to cope on the job:

  • Give each other permission to talk about what has happened and its impact
  • Be understanding of the different ways people react to the loss and respect those differences
  • Be patient with one another; find ways to cooperate to share any additional workload
  • Provide information for everyone on arrangements if the family chooses to make it public
  • Increase self-care; grief can be exhausting. Reach out and talk to someone and use resources such as your EAP

Proactive Steps for Managers

Managers should be aware that everyone grieves differently. Some people are comfortable sharing their feelings, others may become withdrawn and isolated.  It is important to:

  • Keep communications open and share new information when available
  • Touch base with individual team members often   
  • Call on BJC EAP to facilitate a group session to discuss and process the mix of emotions dealing with the loss.

Some teams find comfort in honoring a deceased team member in a special way.  Some examples include:

  • Hold a special memorial service
  • Plant a tree
  • Create a book with pictures or stories and send to the family
  • Establish a scholarship
  • Hold a fundraiser to help with funeral expenses if needed
  • Name a space or event after the co-worker

Seek help from BJC EAP

The impact of the loss of a team member will be determined by many factors, including the number of years worked together, the nature of the relationship, the suddenness of the death and other workplace challenges at the time. Because grief can have an accumulative effect, this loss can bring about feelings and memories of other losses in one’s life, or bring about thoughts of our own mortality.  Make sure to take care of yourself!

If grief impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, contact the professionals at BJC EAP for free and confidential help.  We are here to help you gain the balance you need to overcome and succeed.

For more information call 24/7 314.747.7490 or toll-free 888.505.6444.

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