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Changing The Way, We Think About Grief In The Workplace

Written by: Michele DeVille, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Grief is part of life, and it is something that everyone will face. It is impossible to avoid and as we head into the second year of the pandemic, grief is everywhere.

People are hurting and unlike some things in life, it is difficult to put grief away for the day and leave it at home. Grief will show up at work and it is critical for leadership and managers to be aware of the negative impact grief can have, if ignored.

It is important to change the way we think about grief and to find ways to create grief inclusive cultures at work. And a grief inclusive culture goes far beyond a bereavement leave policy or sending flowers to an employee’s home.

First, an alarming number of bereavement policies are outdated, and the number of days allowed for bereavement leave are inadequate. Reviewing policies is, without question, a good place to start.

There is so much to consider when it comes to creating a grief friendly workplace.

Grief is personal but work is personal too. Especially when grief and work collide. Most people must return to work following a loss and sometimes far too soon. Regardless of if an employee is working at home or in the office, it can be difficult to separate the emotions of grief from responsibilities on the job.

There is a great deal of misinformation in and around grief and it is hard for managers to know what to say and do when someone is grieving. But it is important to develop soft skills and here are a few things that can help:

Don’t try to fix someone’s grief.

Grief isn’t something that can be fixed. The best thing you can do is acknowledge grief versus ignore it. Saying nothing often makes the employee feel unseen and unheard.


Managers are not therapists, nor do they need to be. It is not their job to counsel or give advice. However, listening and seeking to understand can make a big difference.

Manage with compassion.

Learn to be compassionate and check in with your employees. Grievers need to trust you and feel that you genuinely care.

Be flexible and make allowances when possible.

Remember, everyone copes differently when it comes to loss and grief. Never assume that an employee is going to be ready to perform in the same way they did before. Find ways to provide options for that employee in the early days of grief. Allow extra breaks or perhaps they could work part-time from home for a while.

There are so many things that can be done to better support grieving employees and quite honestly, managers are also grieving in today’s world. It is important for everyone to become more educated on grief so we can better support one another and change how we think.

Remember, an employee who is grieving has a new job. Grief is a full-time job, and it is important companies recognize grief while finding ways to succeed.

Do you have challenges at work when trying to support grieving employees? I would love to hear from you. Send me a note at for more information.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info!


Michele DeVille, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Michele DeVille has a deep passion for supporting those who are grieving as well as educating loved ones, communities and the workplace on how to better support grievers. Her own life experiences and grief journey led to this important work. She is dedicated to changing how we think about grief through workshops, coaching, writing and creating helpful resources in the grief space. All grief matters and deserves to be validated, seen and heard.



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