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

  • Numb

After a death, it’s common to feel ‘nothing at all’ at first.

  • Shock

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.

  • Surprise

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.

  • Guilt

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.

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.

  • Get together

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.

Talk to us

We’re here to support you while you’re grieving. Find out the ways we can help.