Supporting a colleague in the workplace

When illness, dying or grief occur in the workplace, it is important to understand:

  • How this will impact the work place
  • How to respond meaningfully and in a supportive way
  • The importance of creating a supportive and safe environment
  • How to shared grief can strengthen the work environment

How Illness, Death, and Grief impact the work place

Practical Repercussions

  • Work time spent on care giving & practical tasks
  • Financial concerns/impacts
  • Employee errors
  • On-the-job accidents
  • Time off needed/absenteeism
  • Consequences to management and team

Emotional Repercussions

  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Inability to focus on work
  • Anxiety about performance & job security
  • Alienation due to lack of understanding

How to respond meaningfully and supportively

  • Understand loss and grief
  • Lead and model
  • Open the conversation
  • Provide appropriate information
  • Recognize ALL affected parties
  • Identify appropriate resources and provide appropriate supports:

Office of Victim Assistance provides free, confidential counseling and group/staff debriefs

Issues specific to creating a supportive and safe workplace environment

  • There are differences in staff responses
  • There are differences in the kinds of support needed
  • Confidentiality issues
  • Resource management and allocation
  • Immediate attention vs. long-term follow-up

Shared grief can strengthen the work environment

  • Caregivers/grievers need acceptance
  • Caregivers/grievers need job security
  • Teamwork productivity can be enhanced
  • Organizational management of crisis sends message to entire staff
  • Grief is inherently a growth experience, individually and as a group

Build your support and information systems BEFORE they are needed

This information came from HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield County. Phone: 303-449-7740,

To return to Office of Victim Assistance’s Grief and Loss/Death Overview page click here