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Workplace Issues Author suggests talking as a way to work out grief

Seminar Covers Comforting Co-workers After a Death

One of the hardest duties at a workplace can be trying to deal with someone who recently lost a loved one.

Ann Van Buskirk will address this issue during a seminar she is presenting to the North County Personnel Association of San Diego on March 14 in Carlsbad.

Van Buskirk is the author of the book, “One More Star in Heaven Now: A Guide to Comforting Someone Who Is Grieving in Life and at Work.” Many companies across the country are successfully using the book as a personnel department resource.

Van Buskirk’s personal experience with the loss of close relatives and friends motivated her to write. She discovered when people are faced with grieving people then they themselves become afraid.

The fear arises out of seeing the hurt in the person’s eyes and the fear of saying the wrong things to the person.

“But you can only make it better,” she said. “The best thing to do is speak with the person and listen to what they have to say.

“‘I know how you feel’ or ‘You still have others to live for.’ Those are common things to say to the person in grief,” Van Buskirk said.

However, these responses are not the right way to relieve a person in grief.

“Instead, think of something to make it personal, like: Your mom made the best chicken, I will always think of her when I eat chicken again.”

The grieving person will want to know that the lost one will be remembered. The worst fear for them is that people will forget their loved ones.

Van Buskirk believes it is vital for companies to have seminars about this difficult matter.

“If a company nowadays wants to keep an employee then it has to create a work environment with trust,” she said. “The more support the employee gets, the more loyal he will become to the company.”

Another new solution is called flextime. If a colleague needs more time to deal with a loss, a co-worker is able to give his or her vacation days to that person.

“Of course, we have to talk more about this before it can actually be introduced,” Van Buskirk said. “Talking means overcoming our fears for loss.”


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