Good Grief? Self-Empowerment in the Loss of a Teammate


Your team is your team. They are your creative and strategic work partners. A collective group of close friends and passing acquaintances. There have been both voice-raising disagreements and glass-clinking celebrations. No matter the unique dynamics of your crew, when a team member is no longer there, the sudden gap is felt. There is one less energy, and like the tide coming in, a wave of grief makes itself known.

This wave consists of more than one shade of blue. There are many moving emotions involved. Ultimately, grief is yours to define, react to, and work through. How one experiences death is a personal journey, and when there is a loss in the workplace, your reaction is just that, it’s personal, nobody else’s but yours.

Some people reach out for a sense of community. Some go inward and stay there. Some deny and carry on while others process quickly and carry on. And, some go to darker, unresourceful places. Can any of these be deemed right or wrong?

Self-empowerment is about exploring what works for you and what does not in any given situation and making ‘better feeling’ choices as you move through your days. When it comes to the loss of a co-worker, it’s having enough love and care for your being to ask, “What can I do to soothe myself right now? What can I say to myself that feels comforting?” This moment is always available to you. 

My own experience with workplace loss was met with a mindful and heart-opening sentence from a great friend (leverage your loved ones!). She said, “You know, nobody had the relationship that you two had.” Bam! How did this land on me? It allowed me to begin to envision our ‘moments.’ I was able to raise my head and remember our time together. Joyful memories started to pop up. The pass-bys and hellos in the hallway. The inside jokes. The morning coffee and catch-up. Their odd, open, and delicious sense of humor. Was I now equipped to move on with a Mary Poppins perspective? Ummm…no. But instead of pushing against my emotions, I empowered myself to make my days easier and more manageable. There is always the choice to choose ease, with your thoughts and actions. Knowing yourself best, what might this look like for you?

Self-empowerment is a choice, and stems, like all emotions (including grief), from love. It may be easy for some and require courage for others. Whatever the case, empower yourself with curiosity:

  • How do I experience loss?
  • What are my beliefs around life and death?
  • Do I even call it death? Maybe it’s a loss or a transition?
  • What thoughts are flowing me towards more ease and self-care? Which ones are not?
  • What’s important to me now?

In our unresourceful states, clarity is always the goal, and questions are the conduit. As mentioned, nobody is or can experience loss the way you do. Your invitation is to discover your own self-empowering questions, the ones that resonate with your own higher self. Be curious, be caring, and your answers will come. 

Your team will become a new team with organizational shifts and many conversations involving change, which can feel overwhelming. Clarity will become cloudy, personally and professionally. This is where your internal stability can shine. Grab on to your empowerment, your trusted friend, and take the space and time to take care of you. Your team will be all the better because you did.