Manage Grief in the Workplace with These Five Loving Tribute Ideas

coworker tribute

Work communities are the alternate “families” with whom we spend much of our lives. When grief in the workplace strikes, it is important to acknowledge the loss to begin the healing process.


Most of us spend a great deal of time with our work colleagues, sharing laughs and experiencing successes and failures. We often consider fellow employees as close friends, and yet, when a coworker passes on, it can feel as though we don’t have permission to fully express our sorrow. If you are dealing with grief in the workplace, it is important to appropriately honor your colleague’s memory and there are many meaningful ways to do so.


Here are five suggestions to help you celebrate the life of a departed coworker.


Hold a remembrance service.

Gather your workmates for a special tribute that is separate from any services being held by the family. A luncheon is the most common choice but this event can take whatever form is appropriate for your workplace. You might consider having a potluck meal, after which staff members could share favorite memories of the departed. If it’s appropriate, you could invite the decedent’s immediate family members to attend this event, too. Even if your workplace is operating remotely or on a hybrid format, you can still honor your workmate. Host a virtual memorial gathering via Zoom or another video conferencing platform and pay your respects online.


Embellish your drab office walls.

Look around your workplace. That plain wall in the reception area, hallway, break room, or conference room can become the perfect place to hang a memorial plaque or photograph of your beloved colleague. Include their name, position held, dates of service, and any other relevant information, if desired.


Share your fondest memories.

Everyone who knew the departed is likely to have different relationship and favorite memories of them. Collect these fond recollections on a memory board that’s posted in a common area. Ask everyone to fill up the board with photos, quotes, notes, and other special mementos. When the board is full, compile the items into a special book that’s signed by everyone in the office and present it to the family of the departed.


Express your sympathies as a group.

Let your colleague’s family know that you care and that you are saddened by the loss of their loved one. Sending a flower arrangement is the most obvious choice, but there are plenty of other good options, such as:

  • Make a donation to a charity that was meaningful to your fellow employee or is related to their 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 the local grocery store
  • Establish a scholarship fund for the children of the departed and collect contributions for it


Create an outdoor memorial.

Many companies provide outdoor spaces where employees gather during breaks or to enjoy lunch when the weather is nice. If your workplace has such an area, enhance it by planting a memorial tree or installing a memorial bench in honor of your departed colleague. Add a personalized touch by including an engraved plaque or marker that bears their name, photograph, and/or a favorite quote.


When a beloved colleague passes on, we often experience the same depth of sorrow that we feel with the loss of our loved ones. Honoring the life of a cherished coworker can be meaningful for the family as well as your fellow employees. 


If you have questions about how to deal with grief in the workplace or would like additional guidance in honoring the life of coworker who has passed away, 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, grief counseling, 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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