Grief is the normal and expected response to a loss. It affects individuals differently, usually depending on whether the loss was expected, the relationship of the bereaved to the loss, and how the bereaved has handled previous losses. A response may seem out of proportion to a current loss, but may have triggered unresolved prior grief, compounding the reaction.
Grief can affect the emotional, spiritual, and physical health of the bereaved, and those responses may carry into the workplace as absenteeism, tardiness, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, inability to get along, alcohol or drug abuse and many other manifestations, up to and including suicide.
People are not generally prepared for the overwhelming feeling which may accompany grief, and often experience unanticipated crying and other atypical and seemingly impulsive or uncontrolled behavior.
These expressions of grief in a bereaved employee may cause uncertainty and distraction in other employees, resulting in a loss of productivity and stress throughout the workplace. Grief does not follow a linear pattern, and is not like a cold, which resolves in seven days, whether you ignore it or treat it. Although resolution often takes longer than society “expects,” supported grief usually resolves more quickly and, when supported in the workplace, aids productivity and increases morale in all workers.