Marketing, strategy and coaching.

Dealing With Grief In The Workplace

Indian corn.No one wants to talk about it, but I feel very strongly that some of you are in pain.

Financial pain is one thing, my business strategies address those issues. As a matter of fact, if your finances are holding you back in your business, you should be calling me to talk about the options you DO have, because doing nothing is a painful way for a business to die. I won’t sugar coat it. It might be time to hang up the ideas you’ve been counting on for so long. But maybe not. Get counsel, my friends. Use my contact form and get in touch with me, or someone else, but don’t become paralyzed by your finances. Actually, the holidays can be painful for other reasons …

I want to address emotional grief in the workplace.

During holiday season, tensions can run very high. Most depressions resulting in suicide happen when the whole world looks like it’s blissfully smiling, and it makes the pain unbearable for those who can’t smile on the inside because they’ve lost hope. They’ve lost vision. Maybe they’ve even lost a loved one. I attended my nephew’s funeral Saturday, and understand how that kind of pain can stop someone in their tracks. This time last year, I lost my friend and associate writer to a painful, long drawn-out death. At the same time I learned that my sister had become seriously ill.

Sometimes we just need a few deep breaths to continue, other times we need intensive healing. If you are an employer, it’s important to love your employees through the pain and grief associated with loss.

Three things you should do immediately when grief is due to loss:

  • Offer time. If the loss is an immediate family member, a paid week off is appropriate. Not doing so may make working conditions for everyone else ineffective or even inoperable. Not only that, but you can relieve your suffering employee of embarrassment in the event that crying and outbursts are uncontrollable.

  • Learn where to send flowers or donations. Send a note that is personal and from your company.

  • Have your team members and leaders sign a heartfelt card and send it to your grieving employee.

Other types of grief might be due to:

  • The hospitalization of a loved one.

  • Clinical depression.

  • A teenager or young adult out of control and making dangerous decisions.

  • Caring for an aging parent.

  • Division in the family unit.

Dog on pillow.I want to offer you words of hope for these situations. So much is out of our control, but we have to walk forward one step at a time. These situations need care, but they don’t need obsession. It’s totally possible to have these scenarios completely captivate your company. This is a dangerous situation because if not handled right, those emotions are followed by frustration and anger. Speak life, my friends, into all of that darkness. It is so important to think about how we are thinking about things. As a business owner, it’s so important to be a part of that storm while maintaining a consistent workflow. Always remember to love, and to move forward.

Here is my list of DO NOTS, and I give them to you with the strongest caution. Love your people well, but do not let grief run your business – even for a week.


  • Do not get angry with a person who’s grieving. Even if it’s costing you money.

  • Do not be overly joyful in the face of their pain. You can be happy, but be considerate.

  • Do not tell them to ‘get over it.’

  • Do not allow substance abuse, suggest and encourage counseling.

  • Do not let conversations about this scenario turn into gossip.

  • Do not encourage a cycle of never-ending misery.

  • Do not allow pain to become an idol, the one thing that rules in every situation.

Conversely, here is my proactive list of DOs:

  • Pray regularly. Pray with your grieving associate. It shows you care, and it activates power to heal.

  • Believe the best in every situation, and encourage your associate to look at what they may be learning about love, endurance and faith.

  • Encourage healthy eating. Some people avoid food when they’re depressed, adding to the chemical reasons for depression.

  • Encourage walks during breaks. Movement can help us think clearer and pacify a mind full of thoughts.

  • Remember Philippians 4:6-9, and take comfort in the model Paul laid out for us.

“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests) and thanksgiving, make your wants known to God. And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things, fix your minds on them. Practice what you have learned from me and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace, of untroubled, undisturbed well-being will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9

Fellowship Bible Church Dallas Prison Ministry TeamWe can’t control every thought that comes into our mind, but we can control what we dwell on. Learning to develop that peaceable, trusting mindset will help you – and your employee, no matter what they believe – to participate in their own mental health.

Finally, friends, if you are dealing with grief or depression, if your tasks are overwhelming and you find it difficult to motivate others or be motivated – take a break from your computer. Get some air. Get involved in a service project. Seriously, working toward a tangible goal to serve someone else is a great way to recharge your batteries and remember that other people have needs, too. I’ve never had more peace through a hurricane than when I’ve served side-by-side with others to volunteer in the community. Those people have become my friends, and my life is richer for taking that step. Depression is designed to isolate you, and knowing that, I take the bull by the horns and get involved. I’m not going to let negative thoughts control my day, my hour or my minute. Service has helped me to see life differently, and to recognize that I can make a difference.

I love you and hope this has reminded you of compassion and outreach during what can be a painful season for some. Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing to ease grief in your workplace. Please leave your comments below.


  1. Great post, Susan! I guess the only thing that I can add would be to allow change to happen. My healing process took a whole lifestyle change, and as you know, I fought it for awhile. I’ve had to learn to choose my battles wisely … battling sleep, time to recharge, hard dietary choices, time to shop and prepare nutritious meals: all unhealthy battles that lead inevitably to illness of one kind or another. Trying to build a life in the remaining hours after you’ve poured your all into building your business doesn’t work. So I’ve stepped back, regrouped, changed my lifestyle completely, and learned to rely on God a whole lot more than I ever have before.

    We sold our home, bought a gently used motorhome, and set out to see the country. I’d say that’s a pretty massive change. We’re building a business on the road, one day at a time and on our terms. Along the way, my health has improved by leaps and bounds. Life is good.

    Thank you, my dear sister, for being there with me through difficult decisions, for your encouragement while I was grieving the loss of a body I could count on, and most of all for your prayers. You’ve lived this post for the past year and it’s helped me immensely.

  2. Life IS good! Learning how to get to the other side of the things life throws our way is a challenge I believe we all face at one time or another, in one way or another. I don’t know how to do that alone, and I’m grateful to know that I NEVER have to. I appreciate you chiming in here, and I’m so, so happy that you’re experiencing the life that you’re supposed to be living, as opposed to a life of just going through the motions. You’re absolutely right, sometimes a drastic change is required to begin the healing process. I hope this post resonates with people everywhere. We have to deal with grief or it will do far more damage than we think it can. The healing is in the faith that good is coming, and I think that may be hard to believe without a firm grasp of Who you belong to:)

    What a journey, this crazy life! Yaay!

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