Updated: Jun 8
Navigating Grief in the Workplace and Balancing those Complex Emotions from someone who has gone through it...awkwardly
Dealing with grief is never easy, and when it intertwines with the demands of the workplace, it can feel like an overwhelming challenge, it might like you're drowning or you're numb and your brain is an old school television with no signal.
The static and heartache can make work seem, even more like work. No matter how much you love and care about what you do, grief can make everything that much harder.
Work can also serve as an excellent distraction, through the power of compartmentalization and keeping yourself busy. However, distracting yourself with work, needs to be done carefully. But more on that sometime in the future!
With the right strategies, it's possible to navigate this difficult journey or at least make it more manageable. In this post, I explore practical tips to help you cope with grief in the workplace and maintain a healthy balance between honoring your emotions and infusing moments of levity.
1. Embrace Authenticity:
Grief is a deeply personal experience, and it's okay to show vulnerability while remaining professional. Infact it may be inevitable that you show more emotion than you and anyone else wants. When it happens, deep breath, acknowledge it, apologize only if necessary, and move on.
Authenticity allows you to connect with your colleagues on a human level, fostering understanding and empathy. Embrace your true self, express your feelings honestly, and let others see the strength it takes to navigate grief while still bringing yourself to the table.
Essentially what I'm trying to say here is, if you're sitting in a boardroom and tears are running down your face and people ask if you're okay, don't say "oh yeah I'm totally fine!" And sit there pretending you're not actively crying while sitting through an implementation deck..... like I have done... multiple times....If something similar happens to you gently remind yourself that people excuse themselves from meetings, all the time, for a plethora of reasons!
Also, that you're crying in a meeting and because you're a brown noser, you're sitting at the front of the room, and you're making this meeting really uncomfortable, Andrea. 😑
2. Find Supportive Allies:
Identify trusted coworkers or friends within your workplace who can provide a listening ear or lend a helping hand when needed. Share your experience with those you feel comfortable confiding in, and let them know how they can support you. Having a support network can make a world of difference, helping you cope with grief.
In addition to this, understanding that many people do not know what to say to people going through a difficult time. Take note of their body language, it may signal that they are uncomfortable or comfortable.
Additionally if they say something that seems dismissive or that feels off for you, don't take it personally, and just note that they are likely not sure how to navigate this situation and that they may not be the best person to confide in. It's that simple!
3. Create a Safe Space:
When grief strikes, it's crucial to establish boundaries that protect your emotional well-being. Communicate your needs to your colleagues, letting them know when you may need privacy or when you're open to conversations. By setting respectful boundaries, you can maintain a safe space where you can process your grief without compromising your work environment. Maybe you have a do not disturb sign at your desk or your place is hiding out in a bathroom stall for a few! It works!
4. Balance Moments of Levity:
Laughter can be a powerful tool in healing, even during difficult times. When appropriate, infuse lighthearted moments into your work interactions, whether it's sharing a funny anecdote or finding humor in everyday situations. However, always be mindful of the sensitivity of the topic and the preferences of those around you. Strive to uplift spirits while respecting the gravity of the situation.
Also, understand that some people simply don't have a tolerance for humor when talking about difficult situations. Read the room.
5. Practice Self-Care:
Self-care is crucial when navigating grief, and it becomes even more important when trying to save face in the workplace. Prioritize activities that bring you joy outside of work, such as engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing physical activities. By taking care of yourself, you'll recharge your spirit and bring renewed energy to your work while honoring your own healing process.
Yes, sometimes the absolute bare minimum of getting out of bed and showering will feel like too much.
Take it one day at a time and continue to challenge yourself to honor your passed love ones. You can do this by showing up and being the best version you possibly can.
Sometimes that looks like the Cynthia doll from The Rugrats, and you know what, it's okay! Life can be a real Angelica.
At the end of the day, grief in the workplace can present unique challenges, but with the right approach, you can cope with the loss while maintaining your professional relationships and responsibilities.
Remember to be authentic, seek support from trusted allies, create boundaries that protect your well-being, balance moments of levity, practice self-care and ask for help if you need it! By integrating these strategies into your journey, you'll navigate grief with grace, resilience, and the unwavering spirit that makes you who you are.
Most importantly, I wish this wasn't the harsh reality but anyone that is human has already, or will experience loss. If kindness, understanding, patience and respect isn't afforded to you by your workplace, it's a problem. There, I said it, if they don't accept that you're a human and so are they, it's not a good work environment.
I acknowledge that I am being flippant, but it's the simple truth. Basic human experiences deserve basic human respect.