Grief is complicated, intimate, and difficult to resolve. In the workplace it is a very challenging time for some, perhaps for all but each person will be working their way through the grieving process at a different speed. Your job is to be there, to provide comfort and patience of course but also to provide leadership and strength to others when they need it too. All the while, you have a company to run and need to think about how you cope with all this and somehow get back to business.
One of the most difficult aspects of coping with loss is assisting those who are distressed, injured, or mourning. When it comes to comfort and support, each person has their own specific and individual needs, and it can be difficult to know how to provide adequate care and emotional guidance, particularly when the loss is sudden and unexpected and a new experience for those affected.
Unfortunately, these difficulties often result in unintentionally inappropriate remarks that come across as glib or unsupportive.That's why it's a good idea to think about some of the best ways to assist those who are grieving, as well as what comments and behaviours to avoid and what each stage of the grieving process might entail. This is far more challenging to manage in a work environment and everyone will need to be more patient and accommodating of each other collectively.
It might be that you want to address the staff together, hold a memorial or informal gathering perhaps to help people begin the process of reflection, acceptance and to perhaps take comfort in a shared sense of loss. It can be a very disruptive time, especially for small businesses and when a member of the team was young. The acute sense of sadness will diminish though but patience will be required in the meantime so be open to suggestions and be flexible when it comes to listening to how different people want to cope.
Most people understand the sensitivities and norms required around these times and that may well be easy to manage internally between you as a group of adults but consider also the impact this might have on external partners, clients and agencies this particular person might have worked closely with and how you manage delivering the news and looking after that relationship.
It’s awful to write the words that somehow your business will have to figure out how to carry on. Losing colleagues is awful and normally quite tragic because they’re likely to have passed away far too soon, too suddenly and leaving a huge hole in your lives. But comfort those around you, take comfort to yourself from the shared sadness, and together you will pick your way through the grief and be able to carry on; the business needs you to.