Grief at Work: Four Ways to Honor a Deceased Co-Worker

The death of a co-worker can be more difficult to deal with than we anticipate.

We spend a tremendous amount of time with our work colleagues, sharing laughs, complaining to one another, and experiencing successes and failures. We often consider our fellow employees as close friends, and sometimes, we are even fortunate enough to feel that they are a part of the family. And yet when we experience the death of a co-worker, it can feel as though we don’t have permission to grieve as we would for a family member or friend. If you have lost a beloved colleague, there are many ways that you can honor his or her memory. Below, we offer some suggestions to help you celebrate the life of a departed co-worker.

Hold a memorial ceremony.

Host a special remembrance service at work, separate from any services held by your colleague’s family. A luncheon is common but this event can take whatever form is appropriate for your workplace. You might consider having a potluck meal, after which staff members could say a few words about the deceased employee or share a favorite memory. If it’s appropriate, invite the decedent’s immediate family members to attend this event, too. Even if your workplace is operating remotely right now, it doesn’t have to stop you from honoring your workmate. Host a virtual memorial gathering via Zoom or another video conferencing platform and pay your respects online.

Beautiful your company grounds.

Many companies provide outdoor spaces where employees can gather during breaks or enjoy lunch when the weather is nice. If your workplace has such an area, then enhance it by planting trees or installing a memorial bench in honor of the deceased. Adding an engraved plaque or marker bearing the employee's name, service dates and a meaningful quotation can provide an extra personal touch.

Enhance boring office walls.

Within your company's workplace, a plain wall in the reception area, hallway, break room or conference room can offer the perfect place to hang a memorial plaque or photograph of your deceased colleague. These items could include the employee's name, position held, and dates of service if desired.

Do something nice for the family.

As a team or company, share your support and sympathies with your colleague’s loved ones. Sending a flower arrangement is the most obvious choice, but there are plenty of other good options, such as:

  • Send a card that’s been signed by everyone in the office
  • Make a donation to a charity that was meaningful to your fellow employee or is related to his or her cause of death
  • Have a food basket or meal delivered
  • Send a gift card for something useful during this difficult time, such as lawn service, maid service, or for the local grocery store
  • Establish a scholarship fund for the decedent’s children and collect contributions for it

Work communities are the alternate “families” with whom we spend much of our lives.

That’s why we often experience the same depth of sorrow that we feel with the loss of our loved ones. Honoring the life of a cherished fellow employee can be meaningful for his or her family as well as those in your workplace.

If you have questions or need guidance in honoring the life of a co-worker who has passed on, the compassionate professionals at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services are here for you. Please reach out to our caring funeral directors anytime.

About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services:
Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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