15 tips for grief counselling at work, for managers and HR-professionals


  1. Be relationship oriented, not work oriented towards the grieving employee
  2. Initiate the first conversation and keep in touch
  3. How you first address the grieving process dictates how it will progress at work
    • Take a break from work and sit down to talk about the events that have passed. Take your time for this.
    • Give explicit permission to grief and ask about the wishes of the grieving employee.
    • Clarify that it may take some time to adjust to new people and situations.
    • Choose the practical solutions
    • Talk about absence and presence.
    • Say that the other employees are informed.
  4. Be specific. Each grieving process is unique. Keep communicating about the wishes of the one involved. Even after a year. There is no set time for grieving.
  5. Help to find the meaning of the work again. Some tasks may have to be adjusted or are to taxing. Be aware of double work.
  6. Assure that the grieving employee isn’t isolated at home or at work. Which contacts are there?
  7. Make a list of the skills you have and which skills you are not sure about. Account for these missing skills. You can delegate certain tasks.
  8. In the event of the death of an employee, pay attention to informing the other employees in a timely fashion, and give room for remembrance and rituals, even during the year after the funeral. Preferably in accordance with the other employees.
  9. Inform the close colleagues, but also the people around them. Observe the behaviour, offer comfort, provide information.  Pay attention to employees that have a (recent) history with the grieving process and hidden grief.
  10. Be open about the situation. Being closed off works counterproductive, for yourself and the workspace. It is not wrong for managers and colleagues to show emotions.


  1. Avoid misplaced encouragement meant as comfort. It is a denial of the grief.
  2. Be mindful of well-meant advice. It is enough to just listen and pay attention.
  3. Do not pressure the grieving employee or their colleagues. Saying: It should be done by now, will only make that the grieving employee goes into denial which will elongate the grieving process.
  4. Do not consider the grieving process as sick leave. Grief isn’t an illness but a healthy reaction to a great loss.
  5. Don’t send the grieving employee home. Work and colleagues can provide great support, even if the grieving employee isn’t very productive.


Short bio

I am a senior lecturer at Hanze University of Applied Sciences,  at the school of Business, department Human Resource Management, the part time education, since 2000. Before that I worked 22 years in various government companies as a human resource manager. I have my own practice  Apsara. I work there as coach, grief counsellor, healer and with meditation and the principles of organisational constellations like systemic coaching. I have been working with systemic coaching with clients and with students for several years. Due to losses in my personal life I became interested in grief and grief at work in 2000. I have worked with this subject with parents but also with managers in various companies and with my part-time students. I am 63 married and had four children.


Titia Mulder Praktijk Apsara
Willem Plojterlaan 7
9766PL Eelderwolde.
050 3095591