How Long Can You Let A 3 Week Old Cry Seven Things You Can Do to Help a Grieving Co-Worker

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Seven Things You Can Do to Help a Grieving Co-Worker

The funeral or graveside service is over and someone you work with is back at work. Is there anything you can do to help the person in the transition he or she is facing? A lot Remember, your willingness to be with anyone who is grieving, your presence alone, can be a factor in healing from a significant loss. Being around pain is a challenge and an essential factor in helping the bereaved.

Here are seven things to consider to support someone you work with and help him/her adjust to the loss.

1. Most importantly, let the person know you are willing to help. If for whatever reason you were unable to attend the funeral or service, express your condolences in whatever way you see fit. Some people are uncomfortable just saying “I’m sorry” and say “I wish I could do something to ease your pain.” Others apologize for not being at the funeral and offer to help in any way they can.

2. Talk about the deceased. Reviewing the relationship with the deceased by asking a question about the person is a good start and gives the bereaved an opportunity to talk. You could ask where the person died and if the co-worker was there at the end, ask about the nature of the illness, or if the person had been ill for a long time.

3. Always allow the co-worker to dictate the pace and content of the conversation. If you feel that the person does not want to talk about the deceased, go ahead and ask if this is the case (Would you prefer to talk another time?) and if there is anything else you could do at this time.

4. Many employers, after three or four days, expect the employee to work at his previous level of production, which in most cases is very unreasonable. Be ready to give your co-worker a helping hand if it is obvious that he is behind in his work.

5. Ask how your co-worker is doing every day. Often, the answer will be good or good. When you hear this follow up with, “How are you really?” Often you will hear some important answers that the person would like to say but is holding back so as not to seem hurt or seek sympathy. Mourners often shape their grief to please those around them and not themselves. You will give the co-worker a chance to express how she really feels and not have to suppress a natural response.

6. Call the person at home at least once a week, especially if the person now lives alone. Evenings are often the most difficult for widows and widowers who live alone. At the appropriate time, invite the person to dinner or out to a movie.

7. Finally, keep helping a co-worker who may hold some of the old myths about grief: you should not cry too much; you must be strong; you will soon be your old self again; and there is a predictable course of grief. Give the person permission to cry, not be strong, and follow their own individual course of grief.

As time passes, allow the person to retell the story of what happened to their loved one. The repetition of grief is often what discourages a caregiver. However, it is important for the bereaved to replay the story again and again because it is an aid to the healing process. Grief is not an orderly and predictable process. With all its ups and downs repetition is useful and meaningful to the mourner.

Again, to reiterate, being there is half the battle. You don’t have to say much. However, be willing to be open with the person and make frequent contact when you feel the need.

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