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How to Deal with the Death of Co-Worker's Family Member

By: LizzyH

  When a co-worker’s family member dies it can be hard to know what the appropriate response from you and your fellow co-workers should be. You want to show support, but you may not be sure how. Here is a guide to help you and your company deal with the death of a co-worker’s family member.



Send flowers to the family from the whole office to show your support. Decide how much you want to spend and pool together an amount from each person in the office. On the card, write something to the effect of, “Please accept our heartfelt condolences. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. From the employees of {your company}.”



If you want to send a more personal message, have everyone in the office sign a condolence card by hand, and send that to your co-worker and the family. It shows that you all took the time to at least sign the card, rather than just having one person order flowers.



If a funeral service or memorial is held and it has been made clear that you and your co-workers are welcome to attend, you should each decide for yourself if you think you should. If you are close to the person who’s family member has passed, then you probably should go to show your support. However, if you are not very close it may be better if you do not go. You don’t want to overcrowd the service with all of your co-worker’s friends rather than the friends of the person who passed away.



When the employee returns to work, you should let him or her know you care by saying something such as, “It’s good to have you back. Let me know if you need anything.” Don’t ask questions about their deceased loved one. Try not to mention the person specifically since your co-worker may not be ready to talk about it. If he or she does seem to want to talk about it, however, be open to listening.



Be patient. It may take several weeks or even months for the employee to accept and move on from the loss. Give your co-worker time to grieve and continue to offer support.




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