The death of someone you spent a lot of time with can be hugely unsettling.
No matter what your relationship to the person who died, the loss of a co-worker can come with a lot of surprising and difficult feelings. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to know your emotions are valid and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to grieve.
What you might be feeling
After a death, it’s common to feel ‘nothing at all’ at first.
If the person died very young or in a sudden or traumatic way, you might find yourself feeling very shocked.
‘My grief doesn’t matter’
After a death, people tend to rally around the person’s partner or closest family members. Colleagues, employers and friends may feel left out of the grieving process.
Sometimes people are taken by surprise by how deeply affected they are when a colleague dies. But it is normal to be shocked and hurt after hearing the news, even if we hadn’t seen or heard from them for a while.
Fear and anxiety
If our colleague was a similar age to you, their death might have made you think about your own death. This can be very frightening.
If you had a strained relationship with the colleague, you might feel a sense of guilt about the way you interacted when they were alive.
Learn more about grief in the workplace
When someone dies in the workplace it can be extremely stressful. Find resources and learn more about bereavement at work.Learn more
Supporting yourself after the death of a colleague
Talk to someone
Talking to friends, family and other people in your workplace can be really helpful. Your HR department may also have a helpline or counselling service in place that can help you work through your feelings.
Find ways to remember them
It can help to think of ways you can remember your colleague, and keep them as part of your life. This might mean making a special album of pictures, or sharing memories on social media. We also have suggestions for ways to remember someone who has died.
Meet with other colleagues who knew them and spend some time sharing memories and celebrating their life. If this can’t be done in person, then try having a meeting online.
Plan ahead on special occasions
Birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations can be difficult after someone close to us dies. It can help to think in advance about how you are going to manage. Read our tips on coping with birthdays.
Journaling and writing
Many people find that writing letters to the person who died can be a real comfort. Others find that journaling helps them to organise their thoughts and recount memories in a meaningful way. Find out more about the benefits of journaling through grief.