Guide When Your People Are Grieving: Leading in Times of Loss

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The pace of development in technology, the quick pace at which new rivals come on the scene, even the rapid turnover of leaders, all require shifts in the way things are done. So how can organisations manage it in a way that gets them the outcomes they want?


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Over the last few decades organisations around the world have been pushed into large-scale changes, such as downsizing, outsourcing, mergers and acquisitions, or restructuring. Change is inevitable.

Helpful Death Quotes On The Ways We Grieve ()

But forced change is emotionally more intimidating and disturbing than is generally assumed. This predisposes employees to be negative about it. In fact they should be concerned with issues such as loss, emotional trauma, grief and mourning. Leaders, managers and change consultants have a great deal to learn about the ways in which employees experience change and the sense of loss they suffer. Change has little chance of success unless the severity of loss is acknowledged, grief is enfranchised and mourning is encouraged.


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Therefore forced changes to jobs or work structures are experienced particularly intensely. People become emotionally attached to things, the more important these things are, the more individuals want to hold onto them. The awareness of loss is therefore much more profound and creates more anxiety. Any change involves some sort of loss. There are tangible losses like loss of income when a person is retrenched or downgraded.

And there are abstract losses such as loss of control, status or self-worth. For the most part, the deeply felt emotional losses are ignored when dealing with change or in debates about resistance to change.

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Most studies about corporate rationalisation, focus mainly on costs and the performance of the survivors. Where emotions from change are studied, the focus tends to be on the loss of a job. But the subjective losses and subsequent emotional experiences of individuals tend to be underplayed. Profound loss is associated with grief — a deep sorrow that causes piercing distress. Although the experience of grief is common, there are marked differences in how intensely and for how long people grieve.

Organisations tend to be indifferent and reluctant to acknowledge the intensify of loss felt by individuals. The indifference and carelessness of executives can compound the experience of emotional trauma.

Grief and Depression

In the minds of many, grief is associated with weakness, cowardice or even hysterical exaggeration. Seeking counseling during the first weeks after the suicide is particularly beneficial and advisable. Coping with death is vital to your mental health. It is only natural to experience grief when a loved one dies. The best thing you can do is allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively with your pain. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses. Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.

Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief. Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.

Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes, such as moving, remarrying, changing jobs or having another child. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss. Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.

Bereavement and Grief

Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.


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Share the sorrow. Allow them — even encourage them — to talk about their feelings of loss and share memories of the deceased. Don't offer false comfort. It doesn't help the grieving person when you say "it was for the best" or "you'll get over it in time. Offer practical help. Baby-sitting, cooking and running errands are all ways to help someone who is in the midst of grieving. Remember that it can take a long time to recover from a major loss. Make yourself available to talk.

Encourage professional help when necessary. Don't hesitate to recommend professional help when you feel someone is experiencing too much pain to cope alone. Children who experience a major loss may grieve differently than adults. A parent's death can be particularly difficult for small children, affecting their sense of security or survival. Often, they are confused about the changes they see taking place around them, particularly if well-meaning adults try to protect them from the truth or from their surviving parent's display of grief.

Limited understanding and an inability to express feelings puts very young children at a special disadvantage. Young children may revert to earlier behaviors such as bed-wetting , ask questions about the deceased that seem insensitive, invent games about dying or pretend that the death never happened. Coping with a child's grief puts added strain on a bereaved parent.

However, angry outbursts or criticism only deepen a child's anxiety and delays recovery. Instead, talk honestly with children, in terms they can understand.

Feelings when someone dies

Take extra time to talk with them about death and the person who has died. Help them work through their feelings and remember that they are looking to adults for suitable behavior. Remember, with support, patience and effort, you will survive grief. Some day the pain will lessen, leaving you with cherished memories of your loved one.

The Grieving Process: Coping with Death

Bereavement and Grief Breadcrumb Home. In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. In fact, death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is.

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Coping With Loss The loss of a loved one is life's most stressful event and can cause a major emotional crisis. Mourning A Loved One It is not easy to cope after a loved one dies.