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Your co-worker comes back to work after recently losing a family member. It’s tough to know how to comfort and support your colleague in their time of need. The loss of a loved one is a traumatic experience that affects a person’s life both professionally and personally. Whether you are office buddies or acquaintances, here are a few kind gestures that you can do to support your co-worker while they are coping with their loss.
Mum’s the Word
There are moments in life worth sharing over social media. The personal detail of your co-worker’s tragedy is not one of them. While you may want to express your sympathy over the web, it’s best to use caution and refrain from posting anything online. This is especially important because you may inadvertently disclose sensitive information to immediate family members who have not yet been contacted, explains an article in Forbes. If the coworker has posted an announcement on social media, however, you may respond to express condolences.
Be Understanding
Your co-worker is faced with an overwhelming journey, which means they may not be functioning at 100 percent on the job. Grieving people also experience sadness, confusion and isolation. Grief may seem overwhelming and make it challenging to concentrate on work for some time after a loss. As their colleague, a great way to support them is to help pick up the slack should any hiccups arise. Remember, any mistakes or errors that may arise are not intentional as grief has a way of distracting those experiencing loss. Come from a place of support and a sincere desire to assist them with any needs they may have in the workplace. Your co-worker will greatly appreciate the level of assistance you provide them as it helps them get back into the work rhythm.
Send a Care Package
Just as your co-worker has a lot on their mind at work, odds are they’ll have even more distractions at home. Daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, etc. can fall to the wayside. Creating a care package is another way you can support your co-worker during this time. It can be as simple as a baked dish or a sympathy bouquet of flowers, explains Forbes. Be sure to find out about any dietary or cultural restrictions. By doing so, you are providing emotional support in addition to helping with the day-to-day tasks that can be difficult to do during times of grief.
Be Sensitive
While your co-worker is coping with their loss, it is important that you broach the topic of their loss with the greatest sensitivity. Even the most well-meaning comments can have you putting your foot in your mouth. For example, if your co-worker has lost their husband, don’t ask about when they’ll start dating. Or if they’ve lost their child, do not ask about their plans on having another advises HelloGrief. Though these questions may have good intent, it isn’t the right time to inquire about such matters. Should your co-worker broach the subject, you can engage, if not, it’s best to leave those topics alone.
Losing a loved one is a traumatic event for anyone involved. Your coworker is going to go through a significant amount of grief and is on a long road to recovery. Be a good co-worker and try to make that transition a little easier by using these tips. They may not stop the pain of loss, but it will help support your co-worker while they are working through their loss.

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