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Six Weeks


Brody

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hi Brody,

I'm really not sure how to answer your question. What kind of relationship do you have with this person, is he a friend or just a colleague that you have a good working relationship with.

Has he opened up to you before about his grief and pain ? Does he still tend to open up or does he brush it off in any way ?

Reason I ask is that for me personally in work, unless I am actually friends with someone I don't like people asking face to face about my actual feelings etc,I guess it feels like pressure to me, because the pain is still so raw, I don't want to be telling people I am not close to, because there are expectations. I've had a couple of people do it and I feel ignorant the way I push them away but it's just way too much for me and I guess I feel I want to make sure they know this makes me uncomforatble so I don't want them trying again in a few weeks time.

In saying that I appreciate the little emails, or IM messages ......they are simply not as confrontational and it's easier to respond, to brush someone off if I don't want to talk but I'm not forced into saying something to somebodys face immediately, or I can delay the response for a few minutes, a few hours etc.

This is simply my personal feelings for me, my grief and my workplace. Others may feel differently. It is very difficult to know what to do in the workplace and Im not sure any of us will have the right answer for you.

Perhaps try to judge from his previous reactions to you when you've spoken to him, asked him how he was and so on.

you are certainly a very thoughtful co-worker to have

Niamh

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He does seem "ok", that is one of the primary deceiving things about grief as far as I'm concerned, like me, this guy has a job, has to do it and we do our best to just carry on with work when in the workplace. Certainly doesn't mean things are suddenly all better for him or easier for him....it's simply the outside looks ok, the inside is most likely very far from it.

I have a colleague that I would consider a good work friend. She will email me or IM me every so often to go meet for a coffee and a chat and I will go and know that I can talk about it. It's difficult to reach out when people say "let me know if you want to chat, if I can do anything". For me I tend not to, but if someone I am comfortable with asks me to go for a coffee/chat I will go and it is very appreciated when they do this. He also may not bring it up himself in a conversation with you, I tend not to bring it up in conversation myself in work unless someone asks, again I guess it's fear of people's reactions & expectations. Perhaps even saying to him "I know today is 6 weeks for you, just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and your family"............it's not a question but it also lets him know you are thinking about more than the "normal colleague" and he probably will know then you are there to listen if he decides to open up but at the same time, there is no question to be answered so he's not under pressure to respond specifically to anything.

hope this helps

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Hi Brody,

I've been following this exchange (actually, I read all the messages posted on our site) and, for what it's worth, I think the advice you're getting from niamh is excellent. You're trying so hard to "do the right thing" with your colleague ~ I get that, and I think it's wonderful that you're so willing to "be there" for this man ~ but I also think the best Rule of Thumb for you to follow in this situation is this: Take your cue from your colleague and follow his lead. Go where he wants and needs to go. In other words, before you do or say anything, always ask yourself whose need you are meeting ~ his need for you to be there for him, or your own need to be whatever and however you need to see yourself in your relationship with him. Pay very careful attention to whatever signals he may or may not be sending. Never assume that someone else wants and needs what you yourself would want and need under similar circumstances. That's how different we are, one from another, when we are in mourning. Grief is as unique to each of us as our fingerprint. (One grief expert even refers to this as our griefprint.)

If you want to explore what others have to say about grief in the workplace, you may find some of the resources listed here to be helpful: Grief at Work

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