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Old 10-05-2017, 07:45 AM
Status: "Fighting off mauraders, again..." (set 11 days ago)
 
Location: Ft. Collins, CO
1,395 posts, read 433,583 times
Reputation: 3050

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I overheard a conversation in which someone said she didn't know what to say to a co-worker who was out of work for a family funeral. Also, she was asking if she should say anything at all, once her co-worker returned to work, since they only knew each other casually & didn't share more conversation that a "hello" in passing.

So, out of curiosity, I googled & found all kinds of stories on what not to say, but didn't find anything on what to say. Articles all seemed to link to books to buy for info. Firstly, should nothing more than "I'm sorry to hear about your xxx" or "I'm sorry for your loss" be said to anyone, regardless of relationship?

Also, what is proper etiquette with co-workers? I wouldn't want to upset someone, knowing they'd probably be bombarded all day by those expressing condolences & having to work all day, so was thinking it might be best to say nothing to a casual co-worker. It's a balance on not wanting to appear uncaring, but not wanting to be too forward. What is correct?
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:16 PM
 
3,963 posts, read 5,248,587 times
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I think it is always best to say something, even to a casually known co-worker. You are right that you don't want the person to be bombarded, so picking a time when there are not other people doing the same is probably best. It doesn't take much time to say "I heard about your loss, and I'm sorry about that. I know it is hard to lose a family member." She may want to talk more, but she may just thank you. Follow her lead. If she just says "thank you" or just smiles in recognition, then just leave it, and don't mention it again. Some people are very private about these things. If that is the case, at least you have let her know that you have thought about her and that you do actually care about the feelings of others. We all want to know that our co-workers are thoughtful, caring people, even if we are not close friends.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Denver CO
18,977 posts, read 10,040,378 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
I think it is always best to say something, even to a casually known co-worker. You are right that you don't want the person to be bombarded, so picking a time when there are not other people doing the same is probably best. It doesn't take much time to say "I heard about your loss, and I'm sorry about that. I know it is hard to lose a family member." She may want to talk more, but she may just thank you. Follow her lead. If she just says "thank you" or just smiles in recognition, then just leave it, and don't mention it again. Some people are very private about these things. If that is the case, at least you have let her know that you have thought about her and that you do actually care about the feelings of others. We all want to know that our co-workers are thoughtful, caring people, even if we are not close friends.
Very good advice.

I had a co-worker once who had a miscarriage - we weren't close or anything but it was late enough that she had announced the pregnancy. I said a simple "I'm very sorry for your loss" and she burst out crying and said I was the only one who had even acknowledged it as a loss. Just a few simple words can be very meaningful to people.
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:10 AM
Status: "Fighting off mauraders, again..." (set 11 days ago)
 
Location: Ft. Collins, CO
1,395 posts, read 433,583 times
Reputation: 3050
Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
I think it is always best to say something, even to a casually known co-worker. We all want to know that our co-workers are thoughtful, caring people, even if we are not close friends.
Thank you for your response, GG. That sounds like the best advice. And, I agree that less is more.


Emm74... Yeah, those situations can be difficult & my fear would be in making someone burst into tears, too. I suppose acknowledgement is best. Conversation beyond that should be left alone unless the one who'd suffered a loss wishes to initiate more.
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Old 10-06-2017, 02:22 PM
 
15,187 posts, read 16,039,895 times
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I usually just leave a sympathy card at their work station that says, "I'm sorry for your loss." It means a lot to people to have the loss acknowledged, even when you're just work acquaintances.
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Canada
5,125 posts, read 3,636,143 times
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You absolutely don't ignore someone's loss. It is a simple expression of kindness to someone who is hurting.

"I'm sorry for your loss" is enough when you don't know someone well enough to say anything else.
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:59 PM
 
4,931 posts, read 4,642,033 times
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My mother died 3 weeks ago. "I'm sorry about your loss." or "I'm sorry about your Mom." are perfectly fine. If they don't know about it, or they know and are just uncomfortable about saying anything, so they don't, well, that's OK by me, too.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
9,166 posts, read 16,515,249 times
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I agree with most of the posters above, "I'm sorry for your loss" is fine. Then stand ready to listen. When we lose loved ones, we need to talk about it/them a little. Your co-worker will probably just say, "thank you", but if they want/need to tell you a little about the person, please listen and respond.

A week or so after my late wife's passing, my neighbor across the street (and city mayor) saw me out front and walked over to say he was sorry to learn my wife had died. I probably teared up a little, but I needed that. He wasn't reminding me, because her death was never more than a couple minutes from my thought at that point.

I don't think he knew her. I'd lived in the house before we got together so knew him and his kids (and parents and grand parents for that matter), but I don't think he ever met my wife. So I spent a couple minutes in the middle of the street telling him about her. It really felt good, and it's one of the moments with him that I recall whenever I see him. (I've actually known him since he was a high school kid working in his parents' drug store.)
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:19 AM
 
Location: interior Alaska
3,979 posts, read 2,964,648 times
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If it's a coworker I'm not at all close to, I prefer a card to a conversation. Same acknowledgement, but it doesn't put them on the spot if they're trying to keep it together at work or dislike being emotional in front of people they don't know well.
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Old 10-08-2017, 05:48 PM
 
8,218 posts, read 8,498,682 times
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You should definitely say something. You start with just a basic sentence with the word "sorry" in it, and then add one other sentence, depending on the situation. The person will let you know if he wants to talk further.
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