It is vital to offer support when people are experiencing loss. You know how important it is to support your team members during times like these. Understanding how to be available and respectful of employees’ feelings is complex. Although you are showing concern and compassion, there can be heightened feelings of sensitivity about our words and actions in times of grief.
You must be authentic when supporting your team. It is crucial to be a supportive leader during a person’s grieving process by thinking about how you deliver your message.
1. Accept that everyone has questions.
Moments of sorrow can often trigger feelings of shock, dismay, or curiosity. Unexpected losses can make it tempting to wonder why and how. Do not ask for more details. Instead, pay concentration to the needs of the grieving member on your team.
Over time, some details may emerge. You may never know the answers to your questions. Curiosity is normal. Your questions might come from a sympathetic part of your heart. However, for those who have experienced loss themselves, the task of explaining why and how can be very difficult.
Instead, be there to support grieving employees. You can let them speak on their own time and provide as much or little detail as they like. Please pay attention to how they manage the situation and respond accordingly.
Refrain from asking for additional information about the events that led to the loss. If they are available to talk about the timeline, listen to them and lead the discussion.
2. Their unique story should be honored
Unfortunately, all of us have experienced grief. Losing a parent or friend is an important life event that every person will experience at one time.
Sometimes it can be alluring to try and relate to the grieving person or employees when we support them. While it is best to have the best intentions, saying things like “I understand your feelings” and “I was there” can be very damaging. Talking to grieving can sometimes be hurtful and downplay their natural, raw emotions.
Even if your loss was similar, you should respect the story and circumstance of your employee. They have unique relationships with their loved ones and must consider these. Do not share your own experiences. Instead, be there for them and assess their needs. You can use your own experiences as a guide for your words.
You can never forget what others did for your employee if you are going through a similar loss. It is also a better idea to think about the things you liked but weren’t or things you didn’t want done.
Funerals, for example, often include a large number of floral arrangements. Although they are beautiful, they can cause chaos and lead to the death of precious foliage as the family alter to their new normal. Help clean up any flowers that have been left in the office. Offer to clean up the vases and donate them. It will ease the pain and help you address an often overlooked aspect of the grieving process.
3. You must respond thoughtfully.
Your employee will go through stages of grief, and you’ll probably be asking your questions. It is difficult to watch others hurt, especially if it seems like they could avoid their loss. The pandemic brought a slew of issues that can increase anger among those grieving and their loved ones.
It is prominent to slow down and take the time to think before you respond. Even in a neutral environment, this can be a good idea. Even though it may seem like the correct answer, a minor slip-up or eye-roll can cause damage. Today’s frustration, anger, and disappointment can not change the past. Instead, try to listen and ask questions to help grieving employees work through their feelings.
Try asking the person grieving what you can do to help them. Do not ask for any specific advice. Encourage them and guide them through the various options that they have.
Grieving is an ongoing process, and your presence is essential.
It can be challenging to manage loss and its ripples in people’s daily lives. Many questions won’t be answered. But the most crucial thing is to remember that your leadership is most important. Be sure to tell those experiencing loss that they can grieve as much as they want. Even though an employee has taken a leave of absence for bereavement, it is still possible to feel alone in grief.
You must be a genuine leader, listening and offering support. Listen to employees and respond accordingly. Set them up to work remotely if they prefer while grieving. You can plan a small, fun event to distract them.
As the pain subsides, be there for your team member to help them adjust to their new life. While listening to their needs and being patient with them, you can also respect their wishes. Grief is not a linear process. If you’re a supportive, caring leader, you can provide comfort in difficult times.