When a staff member loses a family member or close friend

Death of a Family Member or Close Friend

When a family member or person close to a staff member dies, someone in the department should assume the role of coordinating communication between the absent, bereaved person, and his or her coworkers.

The person's immediate supervisor may want to send condolences, either by phone or mail. This should be done directly by the supervisor, and not through someone else. It may be appropriate to send a condolence card from the manager or director, and also one signed by members of the department.

The supervisor may want to remind staff person of the bereavement policy. Check your labor contract or personnel policy for applicable bereavement policy.

The chancellor encourages consistency in responding to the deaths of family members. He also encourages the use of department funds to send flowers or other appropriate gifts within the scope of applicable funding and personnel policy constraints.

The supervisor, or someone designated by the supervisor, also needs to determine the following:

  • Does the individual want to hear from members of the department? If so, does the individual want to receive phone calls or cards? Who does the staff member want to hear from and how can he/she be reached?
  • Who is invited to the services? When and where will they be held? Where can people send contributions?
  • When will the person return to work?

It is helpful if those at work become familiar with the impact and process of grief to be able to be as supportive as possible to the bereaved upon his or her reentry to work. After the staff member returns to work, he or she may need to be reminded to change their benefits if the person who died was covered for health, dental, DepCare, life insurance, and other benefits.

Remind the staff member that Employee Assistance is available to assist them during this time of mourning. Also, Employee Assistance is available to consult with he department on handling the situation.