Grief and Mental Health at Work October 8, 2020

Grief and Mental Health at Work

Grief happens whenever there is loss. Grief ebbs and flows and there is not always a solid ending point. In the immediate aftermath of loss you may take days off from work and other parts of the daily grind. Even though your world has changed the world as a whole goes on. The time comes when you must return to work and often the grief comes with you. How do we deal with grief and mental health while at work?

Grief and it’s connection to Mental Health

Our capacity to process and work through grief has a large impact on mental health. Suppressing grief entirely will certainly create unbalanced mental health. For many of us working is a “must”, we don’t have the luxury of going without an income for an extended period of time. 


Everyone grieves differently and for some being at work is a good distraction from their sorrows. Others struggle to find balance and be able to concentrate when the grief is still so heavy on their heart. There has always been a stigma around weakness in the workplace. Many people keep their pain, anxiety and grief to themselves because they do not want to appear as though they are weak. Showing weakness with a boss can create a fear of looking as though they can’t do the job. 


It is so important to allow your humanity to come through. It is okay to ask for what you need. When struggling with grief and mental health at work please know that you are not alone. 

I totally get it, it is a precarious situation to approach with leadership. So definitely weigh what you share and how you go about it and who you share with. All that being said, I’ll say it again for those in the back, it is okay to ask for what you need at work.

Come with a Plan on how to manage Grief and mental Health at Work

If you feel as though you are at the edge of a breakdown at work it is important that you come up with a plan to avoid that embarrassing meltdown. If you do have a work meltdown, remember we are all human, come back with a plan on how to manage your grief and mental health while at work for the next time it feels overwhelming. If you ask for what you need and layout how you are going to complete your work you might just be surprised at how leadership responds to your needs. 


Things to think about when approaching bosses about Grief and Mental Health at work.

1.You CAN ask for what you need!

2. Make a plan, decide how much info you want to share and with whom.

3. When deciding who you will share your struggle with make sure that they are empathetic but also have the power or influence to help solve your problem.

4. When you go to management be sure of what you need and have a plan of how this will help you get the work done that they need. 

5. Be human, be vulnerable but also be intentional about what you share. 


It can be intimidating to let your boss know that you are struggling and might need some accommodations. You may feel as though they will look at you as weak and incapable. You may be afraid that they will talk about you behind your back. In reality you might find that your boss or HR connections understand you and want to help. If they do respond in a negative way it might be time to reevaluate what type of work culture they are promoting and if you truly want to be a part of it long term.  The stigma around mental health and grief support is slowly changing. Remember, ask for what you need when you are struggling with grief and mental health at work.


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