How to Support a Grieving Co-Worker Who Has Lost a Loved One

How to Support a Grieving Co-Worker Who Has Lost a Loved One

Losing a loved one is extremely difficult. When a co-worker is grieving, it can be challenging to know how best to support them during this painful time. With compassion and understanding, we can make a positive difference.

Give Them Space

Don’t require your grieving co-worker to discuss their loss if they don’t want to. Allow them to take time off work without asking too many questions. Understand that they may need solitude to process their emotions.

Listen Without Judgement

If your co-worker does open up about their grief, listen attentively. Don’t offer advice or platitudes. Simply be present as they express themselves. This shows you care.

Offer Practical Support

Ask if your co-worker needs help with work tasks as they heal. Offer to bring meals, help with chores, drive them to appointments, or assist however you can. Don’t be pushy, just make it clear you’re available.

Send a Card

Write a heartfelt message in a sympathy card expressing your caring thoughts. Include favorite memories you have of their loved one if appropriate. Let them know you share in their sorrow.

Check In

Grief comes in waves. Continue checking in periodically in the weeks and months after the loss. Remind your co-worker you remain a source of support whenever they need.


Should I ask my grieving co-worker how they are doing?

Yes, but keep it simple and give them space if they don’t feel like talking. You could say something like, “I’ve been thinking of you. How are you holding up?” Be prepared to just listen without judgement.

What should I avoid saying to someone who is grieving?

Don’t offer advice like “you’ll get over it” or platitudes like “everything happens for a reason.” Avoid comparing their loss to others or bringing up spiritual explanations. Just be present and let them guide the conversation.

Is it okay to cry with my grieving co-worker?

Absolutely. Showing emotion yourself shows you truly empathize. Just avoid breaking down so much that you make it about your own feelings. Keep the focus on supporting them.

What if I start tearing up even though I didn’t know the person who died?

It’s natural to feel emotional when someone you care about is grieving. Don’t feel you need to hide your tears. Silently weeping alongside your co-worker can be comforting for both of you.

How long before my grieving co-worker “gets over it”?

Grief has no timeline. The loss of a loved one changes people forever. With time and support, the intense pain gives way to peaceful acceptance, but your co-worker will always feel the absence on some level. Simply be patient and caring.