Helping a Coworker who lost a daughter.

trilobiteAugust 1, 2007

A coworker recently lost her daughter in a car accident. The two of them were unusually close, even by mother/daughter standards. Her girl was becoming a young woman, about to go off to college and now she's gone.

How can I best support her? She is my closest work friend, but very reserved by nature. It is difficult to know how to talk to her, especially since our relationship is strictly within work and I think part of how she's "getting by" is by focusing on work and not thinking too much.

Right now, I am doing my best to be kind without making too big a deal out of being kind, if you follow me. But I would appreciate further advice.

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I lost a son 14 years ago and my wife in April. Probably the best thing would just be upfront with your friend about not knowing how to help and support her.

Some of the best things folks have said to me during both those times was along the lines of "I don't know what to do or say but can I help you in any way?" or "Please feel free to talk to me at any time about your child." If you ask her "How are you doing?" mean it and listen carefully to what she says and go from there.

Voice your fears to your workmate. Tell her, if this is how you feel, that you worry about upsetting her further or intruding into her personal life.

She'll tell you what she wants.

It's wonderful that you are wanting to help her out.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 9:03AM
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Thank you for your response. I may write her a letter, something she can read and process on her own. Part of the problem is that we work in a very public location, there's always people coming in and out.

Also, she learned of her daughter's death AT work, in a very upsetting way. Everyone in our building knew within minutes what had happened. So I feel like she's already lost a lot of privacy and needs what little she has, if that makes sense.

I'm sorry for your losses Doc, many healing thoughts to you and your family.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 8:59PM
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I hope she is getting grief counseling, or in a support group. A brief letter/card is good. That way she knows you do care and it is personal.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 1:17PM
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