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SwCA Episode 181: A Work Colleague Has Experienced A Tragic Death of A Loved One. What Should I Do?

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Courtney Elizabeth Anderson

Courtney Elizabeth Anderson


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SHOW NOTES: The HELP! SITUATION SPOTLIGHT™ series addresses challenges, obstacles and problems (real or perceived) that are preventing a person from surpassing their goals! In this series, we shine the light on challenges that community members have shared. This episode is, “A Work Colleague Has Experienced A Tragic Death of A Loved One. What Should I Do?”

Life. Death is a reality for all of us. A tragic death (accident, homicide, suicide, etc.) is not. What do you do if a tragic death becomes a reality for a work colleague?  

1) Be there.

2) Listen.

If you have experienced a tragic death in your life you have an advantage (in some respects) when your work colleague experiences one in their lives. The compassion, empathy and understanding that a tragic death survivor is able to provide to another person is an asset. 

The natural aversion to the colleague (from people who have not experienced a real life tragic death themselves) is understandable at some level. We all hear about tragic death. It is on the news. It is in our media in film, music, poetry, video games, etc., yet that is an abstract awareness devoid of the devastation of the actual child, spouse, friend, boss, parent, partner, that we know who is gone. 

The most ‘helpful’ things you should do, I repeat:

1) Be there.

2) Listen.

I learned about these types of situations when my only sibling committed suicide. 

With a tragic death there are also the extra issues to deal with in many instances of media inquires and coverage. This forces public attention on the survivors. In many instances it is the only public information about their loved one and it defines their entire life into often graphic and