Understand how your employee will grieve
The grieving process isn’t always linear, but usually has distinct stages. Not all people will go through all of the stages, but recognising when an employee may be experiencing a particular emotion will allow HR managers to respond effectively and sensitively. It is generally accepted that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
During the denial stage, the affected employee may well be in a state of shock, wondering how they can process the information, and indeed get through the day. If and when anger develops, it could be directed at almost anyone, whether it’s a doctor, a different family member, or somebody who didn’t respond as the employee would have liked them to. While it may appear irrational from an outsider’s perspective, it is crucial to respect this as an important part of the healing process. The next recognised stage is bargaining, which can see the employee trying rediscover equilibrium.
If or when the employee starts to experience depression, it could be incredibly difficult for them to engage meaningfully or concentrate on anything outside of their immediate situation. This is a perfectly normal reaction, and it is important to meet it with patience and understanding. Finally, after moving backwards and forwards between all or some of these stages, the employee may reach a state of acceptance. While this doesn’t mean they are alright, it may mean that they are able to look forwards and readjust to their new circumstances. If you are communicating with a bereaved employee, try to consider how they may be currently grieving, and speak to them accordingly.