When I was 25, I worked as a shipping clerk at a large production facility. I only ever met a small percentage of the employees who worked there, and only really got to know a handful. There was an older lady who I worked with who was always kind and encouraging when the job got stressful. One Monday morning as I was walking into the warehouse, I was informed by another coworker that she had passed away the night before. It was an eerie thing to hear first thing in the morning, and it definitely ruined everyone’s week.
If you’ve ever had to deal with the death of a coworker, you know it can be tough. Being at work can usually help take your mind of the death of someone you’re close to, but when it’s a work colleague, it can feel like there’s no escaping the thoughts and feelings that you’re dealing with. Here are a few ideas that can help with the process…
Read the room: It’s hard to know how each person will handle getting the news of losing a coworker, so be sensitive to that. Some folks will want to talk a lot about it and some will hardly say a word all day. Give your staff the freedom to grieve in their own way and let them know that you understand it’s a difficult time.
Come together: Even though some employees won’t be in the mood to voice their emotions, it can sometimes help to hear how others are feeling. Putting aside some time to talk about it is probably good for your team and even though it’s a sad situation, experiencing it together is a great way to cope and can even help you bond and become closer.
Remember the job: Every employee isn’t always super close to everyone they work with, but some are like family, so try and let any employee who would like to attend the funeral have the opportunity to do so. Talk to each team member and find out who would like to go and who is okay with staying at work. It’s an unfortunate time, but you do run a business, and as they say, the show must go on.