Providing professional resources for grieving employees

6 min read

Services that employees need after a loved one dies

  • After a loved one dies, employees face numerous challenges in addition to their own grief.

  • Demands on their time, energy, and finances can be overwhelming. Easing their burden is and support will help them as they balance work and home responsibilities.

  • In the first days and weeks, it is helpful to give managers the option to arrange for meal delivery, child care, or a housecleaning service.

  • While the employee is settling their loved one’s estate, consider offering subsidies or recommendations for professionals like lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents.

As a manager, there are many ways to be there for your employees after they have suffered a traumatic loss. Providing professional resources, in particular, can help them navigate the grieving process as well as the legal and financial responsibilities they may be shouldering.

Easing their considerable burden helps them transition back to the office with fewer distractions and less stress—crucial support they won’t soon forget.

Immediately after their loved one passes

In the days following the death, there are many ways in which you can support your employee. For example, arranging meal delivery is always a good way to help because when people are grieving the last thing on their mind is eating or preparing meals.

If the employee has children who need to be cared for, then helping to set up child care is another way to help, as well as finding services that offer to do chores like house cleaning, lawn care, property management, making sure the trash and recycling are put out on the right day, and similar tasks.

The first days and weeks of bereavement are often intensely busy. Is it within company policy to offer support that’s more tailored to your employee’s needs? Find ways to give managers the option to arrange for:

  • Meal delivery (A gift basket or platters of small sandwiches will feed their guests and offer sustenance in small servings to family members who may find it hard to eat.)

  • Child care

  • A housecleaning service

  • Lawn care

  • Spa services like massages

  • Travel vouchers or discounts for family traveling to the funeral

If you’re not sure what your employee needs specifically, asking their close coworkers will help guide you in where you can help most.

Help with logistics

When someone dies, the survivors are left with a lot of tidying up to do. This can involve traveling, not just for a funeral or ceremony, but to take care of things like probate and other loose ends.

Consider your bereavement policies and your budget. Can you expand on partner discounts or other subsidies offered through HR, with bereaved employees in mind?

A number of professionals can give bereaved employees back time and money when they are in both in short supply, including:

  • Travel agents

  • Estate and probate lawyers

  • CPAs for tax preparation

  • Estate sale professionals

  • Real estate agents

  • Property management

  • Junk removal

  • Home cleaning and landscaping

  • Grief counseling

  • Psychotherapy

Considering the financial situation bereaved employees often face, offering meaningful support can lower stress and worry. The 2022 Cost of Dying report showed that the average family incurred more than $12,000 in expenses after a loved one died.

Setting up an employee assistance fund (EAF) or offering to pay their salary a few weeks in advance can help them get through their short-term financial hardship. (Since most expenses are paid by the estate, it is usually only a short-term cash crunch—but anxiety-producing nonetheless.)

These kinds of support It not only shows that you care about the employee, but that they’re a valuable part of the company. 

Bereavement leave and beyond

Whether it’s letting your employee know that you have an open door policy whenever they need to talk or insisting they take time off—experts suggest 20 days of leave is what most people need before they’re able to resume their daily life and tasks again—make sure they know that they have options.

In the U.S., employees struggle to take time off, even when they need it, because of guilt, a fear of getting behind at work, and the general mentality that work comes before mental health.

In the U.S., employees struggle to take time off, even when they need it.

Because of this, you’ll want to make it clear to your employee that their job is safe, and they absolutely should take bereavement leave. Consider offering a transition period for those who need it: either working from home, or returning on a part-time basis for a specific period of time.

Without adequate time and space to heal, an employee who pushes themselves too hard can burn out fast.

Being flexible and working with your employee will make their return as smooth as possible for them and, ultimately, their colleagues and the whole organization.

Although not everyone needs or even wants therapy or grief counseling, it’s still something that is helpful to assist with. Compiling a list of mental health professionals takes pressure off of an employee who is seeking out professional help—saving them time and avoiding the stress of searching for providers on their own.

Be a leader

As a manager, you are a leader and employees will look to you as to how to respond to the grieving employee.

In our culture, the topic of death is still very taboo and many people struggle to know what to do and what to say when talking to someone who has recently lost a loved one.

That’s why it’s essential that, in addition to giving the grieving employee the resources they need, you give their coworkers the dos and don’ts of what to say and how to welcome the employee back.

The last thing a grieving employee needs when they return to work is their fellow coworkers standing around their desk, telling them, “I’m so sorry,” or “You’re going to be fine,” or “Your loved one is in a better place,” or being told the stories of the loss that others in the office experienced.

The grieving employee will remember how you handled this part of their life, and so will your other employees.

Not only is this not helpful, but it can be emotionally triggering. Knowing what to say and how to say it is going to make a big difference.

Whether it’s the first time or the 10th time having an employee who lost a loved one, it never gets any easier.

As much as you want to be there for them and give them all the resources they need, you still have a company to run. But by providing them meaningful support, you can reduce their feelings of being overwhelmed and let them know that they have their company’s support.

Not only will the grieving employee remember how you handled this part of their life, but so will your other employees.

You want the people who work for you to know that although the company has a bottom line, the business wouldn’t be where it is without its employees. Showing appreciation and compassion during this time will speak volumes about your company’s values.