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4 Tips to bring the mourning process into your organisation

Trends by Stefanie Schillmöller and her research in Good Grief

The need for a space for mourning slowly seeps into to various levels of society, including McKinsey & Company. In the article “Your organization is grieving – here is the best you can help” they discuss how leaders, in times of global uncertainty, can use the grieving process at different levels of the organizational culture and in people's own leadership approach. Here 4 tips.


The article of McKinsey & Company "Your organization is grieving – here is the best you can help" is a very good and thought-provoking article. Lots of companies I work with are at a stage where the new reality is about more than providing technical solutions and more online tools. Something got lost. It’s a feeling of togetherness, the relationships people built and all these spontaneous connections you make during the day. We get limited to a small screen and focus on productivity and efficiency. We search for solutions - but maybe we first need to mourn?

4 Tips

For businesses and organisations, change (due to Covid 19), is also regarded as loss - and loss needs to be mourned.Unfortunately, organizational leaders often fail to facilitate, or even allow for the mourning process to unfold. The pandemic brings new opportunity, and urgency, to do so as the prolonged levels of uncertainty and disruption will only add to the grief and anxiety that employees experience. The grieving process lets us recognize and accept our emotions, easing the path toward healing and recovery.


Some practical things those in leadership positions could do (or stop doing):


1. Don’t perpetuate denial

It’s tempting — and natural — to want to reassure the people you lead with statements such as, “When things return to normal.” Don’t. Work life may never be the same, and the best leaders approach this fact with sensitivity and compassion.

2. Create psychological safety

Many leaders out there were conditioned to think that tough times require demonstrations of strength and heroic leadership (“toughing this out” or “powering through this”) — the exact opposite of what your team needs. Start by asking questions that invite and allow people to reflect on their experiences, acknowledge and recognize their feelings, and express their emotions. Dedicate time for this — and include yourself.

3. Allow people to miss things & resist the urge to problem-solve

People are grieving on unacknowledged levels. Enthusing to your team about how great you feel to give up commuting, for example, is a giant stop sign for the colleague who quietly grieves the loss of her train ride and the “me time” it gave her to reflect and prepare for her day. Leaders are right to want to be positive, but slow down and make sure you are making it acceptable for people to miss what they’ve lost.



4. Pair empathy with compassion

A compassionate person is motivated to take action that reduces another’s suffering, and this is emotionally beneficial to grievers. You cannot resolve other people’s grief for them, but you can find ways to support them while they address it.


Read the whole article of McKinsey & Company online.


Read also

- Podcast: Letting Grief Open Us to Grace

- TEDx Talk: Grief, it's Complicated.....10% of the Time

- Recompose, “Humusation” as an emerging alternative to burial and cremation

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