Ways to support a grieving employee at the time of a loss:

  • Acknowledging and saying something simplesuch as “I’m sorry for your loss”
  • Avoidingclichés such as: You’ll get over it or It’s for the best
  • Attending the funeralor service.
  • Sending a card or flowerson behalf of the organization or the team.
  • Preparing food or dropping bythe employee’s home.
  • Asking the grieving employeewhat you can do to help.
  • Being open to the employee’s need to talkabout their loss.


When returning to work employers need to:

  • Learn to identify that some employees may return to work too soon and may need more time to sufficiently recover from their loss.
  • Recognize that some employees will find comfort in getting backinto a work routine. Don’t discourage these employees from returning to work.
  • Be watchful and do what you canto ensure that grieving employees are looking after themselves during the grieving process, by eating well and drinking enough water, as dehydration is common when people are in grief.
  • Briefly but frequently show concernand ask what you can do to help.
  • Ensure the employee has someone at work they can talk to about their loss if they wish to.
  • Treat the employee as normally as possible.
  • Understandthat it is not unusual for someone to experience significant grief for a period of months or even years.
  • It is normal to cry at any time when grieving and it is not usually necessary to try and stop.If the crying interferes with customer service or the work environment, have a conversation with the employee about where there is a safe and private space they can use to cry.


Supporting employees to remain productive:

The most common physical responses to grief are low energy, muscle aches and pains and generalized tension. This may result in employees being unable to cope with work tasks.

  • Discuss with the employee any modifications that can help them do their work.
  • Offer specific, concrete helpsuch as information on bereavement leave and benefit entitlements.
  • If possible, be flexible about time off, especially during the first months of bereavement, keeping in mind that some employees may need more time off than others.
  • Reduce or eliminate pressure by prioritizinga grieving employee’s responsibilities and with their input, when possible, reducing their workload for a time.
  • Avoid assigning new tasksor additional responsibilities when the employee is still struggling with grief.