Death of Co-worker

Many of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our family some days.  The illness of a co-worker has an impact on you. Your own serious illness can also impact the workplace.

The impact of the death of a coworker may involve many considerations:

  • The number of years worked together
  • The nature of the relationship
  • The age of the deceased
  • The suddenness and nature of the death
  • Succession planning or how the job will be done

When a co-worker dies, grief is the normal and healthy response.  People grieve in different ways. Your work environment will be affected and it will take time to return to normal.  If the death was suicide, homicide, or happened at work, you and your co-workers may be more distressed..

What are effective coping strategies when a co-worker dies?

Management should meet with staff to talk about the loss of the co-worker and plans for acknowledging the loss by allowing people time to attend memorial or funeral services.

You may find it helpful to gather together as a group to talk about the deceased and the death to share your feelings. Inviting a facilitator with experience in grief counseling such as someone from the Faculty Staff Assistance Office to such a group can be helpful.  Acknowledge co-workers who have taken on more work during an illness and bereavement.  Establishing a memorial at work such as naming a bench or planting a tree can be meaningful for colleagues to remember the deceased and their contributions.