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What Can I Say When My Colleague has a Bereavement?

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Grieving Colleague

The pain of losing a loved one in death can last weeks, months, or years. So there are no hard-and-fast rules on how to grieve. You might sometimes find yourself in a position where you need to console a grieving colleague and wonder what to say when a colleague has a bereavement.

You’re not alone, for many people have good intentions, but they don’t know what to write in an email or offer condolences in a public meeting. However, based on your degree of closeness, here is what you can say to your colleague.

How to Comfort a Grieving Colleague

·         Keep Your Condolence Message Simple

Condolences Message

Are you close to the grieving coworker? If you’re not exactly close, but you feel empathy for them due to the loss, then writing them an email is okay. You can tell them that you are thinking about them and you’re there if they need anything.

You may also tell them not to feel pressured to reply to your email. Doing so will help the grieving people know that they can reach out to you at any time.

Additionally, since they need time and space to grieve, you shouldn’t send them another message unless they explicitly ask you to do something for them.

·         Don’t Compare

The procedure of consoling a close colleague is similar to a distant one. However, unlike an acquaintance, a close work friend might need to talk to you. So then, if they make that request, you should be present as an active listener.

Further, don’t make comparisons if you had a similar loss; instead, focus on your colleague. Remember that the grieving process is different based on whom you have lost in death. Therefore avoid the temptation to narrate what was helpful for you when your parent, spouse, sibling, or child died.

Instead, simply let them know that you have ever lost a loved one in death so that they don’t feel they’re alone, and they can ask how it was for you. Continue with the dialogue by regularly checking on them.

·         Use Available Resource

If you’re their boss, tell them that you and the company are ready to support them. You can say the whole office is thinking of you and are here for you however needed.

Next, tell them about the resources available for them through the company’s bereavement policy. Show them that you’re there for them as their boss by assigning someone else their duties.

Continue to communicate and listen to them when they return from bereavement and respond to their needs using available resources. This is important because grief has no deadline and can go on for months or years.

·         Avoid Asking Them Questions

Questions like what happened, how you can help, or how they’re doing are unnecessary. Actually, they force your colleague to do something or decide what to share with you or not when they’re still mourning.

Instead, opt for “I’m holding you in my thoughts,” “I’m thinking about you,” or “I’ll check in from time to time”. Further, you can tell them about specific tasks that you’re willing to do for them and let them decide how they would like you to assist whenever they need some practical help.

·         Don’t Rush Your Condolence Message

Avoid blurting out your condolences when you meet your grieving colleague for the first time after the loss. Just make eye contact and send them an email or welcome them back. Afterward, offer your condolences in person and in private.

At the same time, don’t ignore your coworker even if you’re not close. Some people feel nervous and allow their level of discomfort to say nothing. Focusing on your colleague and not yourself can give you a clue of what to say.

Therefore, you can support your coworker by applying the featured tips. Knowing that you care about them will help them in their recovery.

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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