Understanding and supporting those who grieve

Being supportive of colleagues is a necessary quality of a good team environment.

Grief and loss is something we experience at some point in our lives. Often it seems that we all experience grief slightly differently, making it somewhat difficult to know how to approach each other.

The logical inevitability of sickness and death often delays awareness of our emotional responses to the loss of friends or loved ones. This emotional delay means that we can be back at work and suddenly find ourselves expressing sadness and grief in unexpected ways. Seemingly insignificant moments such as memories, messages, objects or even smells might trigger sudden emotion and tears. This is to be expected under the circumstances and we need to find ways to give ourselves time and space for the expression of these emotions.

We may feel cautious in approaching colleagues who have suffered loss and yet it is good to trust your motivation and express your concern. Let him or her know you are aware of their loss and encourage them to seek support as needed. A supportive workplace can tolerate difficult emotion. It is healthier to communicate rather than acting as if losses haven’t happened.

Sometimes grief can be like a trawl net in the sea, collecting with it many other related experiences that will contribute to our sense of sadness, loss and the seeming injustice of loss. Such times can seem overwhelming and given that family members may be experiencing their own grief it is best to consult your GP or Vitae health professional if you need to talk it through - http://www.vitae.co.nz/contact/counselling-form/

We all experience the 5 stages of grief Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Please take a look at http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings for us to learn from.”

Elisabeth Kubler Ross