Grief at the Office: How to Deal With the Worst When You Still Have to Work
I read an article the other day about dealing with grief in the workplace. Whether it be from a close loved one, a friend, or even a co-worker, it's still exceedingly difficult to handle. Especially if your co-workers are close to you outside of the office.
On August 27, 2015, I got that dreaded call from my mother that my grandmother had passed. I was the manager for a company of financial advisors and was at my desk during the busiest part of the day. Long story short, I left the office and requested two days off but decided to work from home to keep my mind straight as I attempted to get my emotions under control. Eventually, I had to establish a few rules to keep in my head for quite a while as I was also the main person people turned to for strength during that loss.
1. Be Kind To Yourself
There is no help in blaming yourself or asking "what if". That will only make things worse. Understand that people are born and die everyday and eventually everyone's time will come.
Take the time you need to recover. Your peers should understand as everyone, at some point, has experienced loss.
Do not be afraid to ask for help, whether it's to delegate some of your duties at work or simply for moral support and company. At times like these, we often think we're alone. But the truth is, we're always alone, and it's only when we choose to invite others into our lives that we're not.
2. Action Is Good
"Keep your grind right and it will keep your mind right." It's a silly quote but it's true.
Keep yourself occupied. If you sit and dwell on your loss, overcoming sadness or depression. I chose to do some work from home simply to keep my mind occupied. Distractions will come easily but it's good to try to re-establish your focus so you're not a mess when you do return to work.
A girl at my office I was close friends with lost her fiance to heart failure. I remember she took nearly two weeks off but was on her A-game when she returned. She told me she kept busy by completely re-decorating her whole house.
3. Honor Your Loved Ones
Death - especially when unexpected - has a way of wiping away the filters we've put on our lives and giving us a fresh perspective about where we are and where we may be headed.
Tasks at work or communicating with other people may seem unimportant as we ask ourselves "Why bother?" You may feel the need to make drastic changes such as making the most of your short time and quitting your job and moving to Alaska to study bears or running off to join the circus... but do not let your life goals you had escape your grip.
Experts strongly suggest not making any major life changes during periods of grief. And know that you have been given a great gift. With the passing of your loved one, you've been given perspective.
Thank them for helping you to recognize where you're at, what matters to you, and what you're spending your precious time and resources on.
Later, you can start re-evaluating your life's goals and purpose and figuring out - before it's too late - what you might need to do to get to where you were meant to be.