Have you ever had a co-worker pass away? Have you been in a workplace shooting, associated with it or had family or friends go through it? The trauma of workplace violence or the sudden death of a co-worker is real and can have tragic effects.

I’ve had clients pass away either due to violence, a workplace shooting where this CFO was targeted and gunned down in the parking lot of his company. In my mind, I still see the news footage of this event and it deeply saddens me. This was 20+ years ago now and I can still remember working with him and his team. That kind of violence brings grief @ work to a whole different level.

With 2020, we saw the death of co-workers due to a horrible virus. Too many workplaces lost co-workers and friends. Besides the death from a virus there have been deaths to weird accidents and sudden heart attacks or brain aneurysms. Two of my friends lost distant family members or friends to, of all the weird things, brain bleeding. No sudden heart attacks or car crashes but brain issues.

In one week, there have been 4 deaths in my circle; a friend’s mom, a friend’s uncle, a friend of a friend’s husband, and a client. It gives me pause. Thus, why I am writing on this topic today.

A Loss is a Loss

I think sometimes we tend to look at personal loss differently than a work loss. Losing a spouse vs, a close co-worker are different in some ways. The loss of a spouse or family member is deep and lasting. It affects you every minute of your day and night. It is crushing. The emptiness is never forgotten.

A co-worker is a loss as well, but we may try to compartmentalize it. We only notice it when we are at work or would normally speak with this person. We focus on the tasks at hand such as, “who will take over the department”.  We get busy with “the doing”, not the processing.

Recognize the Grief

No matter the loss, if we knew this person, it will affect us. It’s ok to stop and pause and note the grief. Recognize that no matter how close you were to this co-worker, boss, or client, that you are grieving them. In addition, note that if things were said poorly in your last interaction with this person you may be feeling remorse, guilt, regret for the kind of relationship you and this co-worker had.

No matter how much you “need to get done”, please pause to name what you are feeling. Recognize you might not be “at your best” at work right now. Talk through it with co-workers or others that are safe to process your feelings with. Just don’t stuff it down, deep inside. Sometime when you least expect it, it will come out. Grief is real.

I have felt like I have been in and out of grief for several months. All for different reasons and all being processed regularly. 2020 and 2021 have been full of loses and change. We each transition through the change differently but no matter what, there is a bit of grief in all of it.

It’s ok to grieve.  Give yourself some grace.

Stages of Grief: