Tips for Supporting Employee Bereavement-From the Memorial Specialist

My mom died this morning, I don't think I will make it in...

What is Employee Bereavement?

Employee bereavement refers to the period of mourning and grief experienced by an employee due to the loss of a loved one. It is a challenging time that can significantly impact an individual's emotional well-being and work performance.

Why is Employee Bereavement Important?

Recognizing and addressing employee bereavement is crucial for maintaining a supportive and compassionate work environment. When employees feel supported during difficult times, they are more likely to recover and return to their normal productivity levels sooner.

How to Support Employees Going Through Bereavement?

1. Offer Condolences: Express your condolences to the employee and let them know that you are there to support them during this difficult time.


Examples of text messages/emails to send immediately after a loss-

-We are all thinking about you today as you grieve the deep loss of your (aunt Karen/daughter Elizabeth/husband John) its important to acknowledge the person by name, if you have it.

-The ER staff will be dropping food off at 6:00pm tonight, please know you are in our thoughts during this difficult time.

-Just checking in to let you know are hearts are breaking for this pain you are going through.  We have added our names to the meal train please let us know if there is a special dish we can bring.

Touch base after 1 week-

-We know there is nothing we can do to truly ease this pain you are going through, but we want you to know your family is heavy on our minds. 

If bereavement leave is extended continue to reach out every two weeks until the employee returns.  Set a calendar reminder.

-Our thoughts continue for you and your family

2. Flexible Leave Policies: Provide flexible leave policies that allow employees to take time off to grieve and attend to funeral arrangements.

3. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Offer access to EAPs, which provide counseling services and resources to help employees cope with grief and loss.

4. Clear Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with the employee, allowing them to share their needs and concerns.

5. Adjust Workload: Consider temporarily adjusting the employee's workload or redistributing their tasks to alleviate stress and pressure.

6. Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a supportive workplace culture by encouraging colleagues to offer support and understanding to the grieving employee.  ASK the employee if it is helpful to talk/share about their loved one.  The number one complaint employees have after returning from a loss is their workplace never acknowledged their loved one after returning.

7. Anticipate their return.  The first day back after a loss is obviously difficult.  Being open with your employee takes the awkwardness off the table for everyone.

"If you feel comfortable sharing about your mom I would love to hear more about her, I also understand if you prefer privacy at this time." 

The Benefits of Supporting Employees During Bereavement

1. Increased Loyalty: When employees feel supported during difficult times, they develop a sense of loyalty towards their organization.

2. Improved Morale: Supporting bereaved employees boosts overall morale within the workplace, creating a positive and compassionate atmosphere.

3. Enhanced Productivity: By providing the necessary support, employees can recover more quickly and resume their normal productivity levels.

4. Reduced Turnover: Employees who feel supported are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, reducing turnover rates.


Employee bereavement is a challenging experience that requires understanding and support from employers. By implementing compassionate policies and fostering a supportive environment, organizations can help their employees navigate through grief and loss, ultimately benefiting both the individual and the company as a whole.

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