here’s the thing that gets me about grief – it’s unpredictable and completely unavoidable. even if you’re really good at hiding your feelings or pretending they’re not there, they will eventually show themselves. at work, grief is an entirely different sort of beast because you’re already expected to contain yourself at some sort of level, all of the time. so how does one deal with grief at the office, or over a passed colleague? here’s what I’ve learned so far.
don’t hold it all inside. grieving a colleague who’s passed is already hard enough. don’t amp up the pressure on yourself to be perfectly cheery and positive as usual. accept that you’ve had a major loss and that it’s okay to feel down and behave so in your office. and honestly, if you’re feeling the loss of a colleague, everyone else is too. sharing how you feel about the death with others around the office can open up a mutual sense of belonging and strength in a time of serious sadness. additionally, explaining your feelings can help others understand what is going on in that noggin of yours.
be especially nice to others. in my experience, if something bad happens at the office, you’re not the only one who’s feeling it. you might think so at first, but remember that everyone grieves differently and might be hurting just as much as you are. be extra nice to everyone around you, you have no idea what sort of battle they’re fighting inside themselves. the sudden death of a colleague has also taught me to remember that life is fleeting and that, honestly, it’s really not worth it to be anything but kind to those who are around you. bottom line: be nice, it will matter.
find a way to honor the fallen. the thing that’s helped me most in coping is finding a way to honor the ones who have died in a positive and uplifting way. remembering people for the positive things they brought to the table and then passing those positive things on to others is a great way to honor your colleague. better yet, find a way to remember them that will live on for a long time after they’re gone, like creating a scholarship fund or plaque with their quote on it. this will help you heal, and will allow the memories of that person live on for forever.
nothing is permanent in this life. we all think and act as though life will carry on just like it always has, but it’s never the case. sudden and unexpected death is so hard to handle and understand, but by finding ways to remember those we’ve lost in a positive light, we can carry their souls with us wherever we go. remember to thank the ones you work with, be kind, and always appreciate the time you have.
this post is dedicated to joe philley, a passionate colleague and determined soul. father, grandfather, worshipped community leader.