It’s sadly inevitable that at some point one of your coworkers will cope with the death of a loved one. The grieving process is intensely personal and changes the dynamics and etiquette of the office.
An article from UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources wrestles with the issues that come up when coworkers are mourning losses. Here are some dos and don’ts for interacting with those who are suffering:
* Don’t act as though nothing has changed. The first time you interact with the coworker, consider an appropriate greeting that expresses your sympathy. It’s unhelpful to leave the impression that you’re overlooking his loss.
* Don’t violate boundaries. If you’ve never been touchy-feely with the coworker, you probably won’t want to surge in for a hug. But be ready to lend a shoulder to cry on.
* Do attend the funeral. If coworkers are invited, make the extra effort to show up as a sign of support. A funeral is never convenient for anyone, so don’t use your busy schedule as an excuse not to go.
* Do offer to help. Generic “let me know if there’s anything I can do” offers may not go far enough. Offer to, say, bring a meal for the household on a specific day.
Helping Colleagues Cope With Grief [University of California, Berkeley]