Given the speed of communication with social media, how should a company modify its grief counseling approach?
By the time I arrived to conduct the grief counseling session, the energy in the room was different because the whole group had already been in communication since the day his family announced his death. It became abundantly clear that a different approach was necessary.
I quickly realized the need to switch gears and to provide information about grief, loss, and self care and to normalize their experience. After I spoke, the group seemed to want to reminisce about Mark and share their favorite stories about who he was. It seemed appropriate at this moment to allow the group their experience and observe rather than facilitate.
After I spoke, I turned it over to the manager and he began to talk, laugh, and cry about Mark. They shared funny stories; there were roars of laughter and outbursts of tears. It seemed to be one extreme or the other--emotions were running high. They also talked about Mark meeting his future wife and becoming a father.
After about an hour, the group seemed to have shared what they needed to share. The manager looked over at me and said, “Do you have anything else for us?” I said without hesitation, “I have never been to a grief counseling session quite like this.” The whole room burst out laughing. One person said that Mark wouldn’t want it any other way.
On that note, the group concluded. The staff had lunch together, socialized in the conference room, and left around 4 pm for dinner together. Funeral arrangements were being planned and the company was in close contact with Mark’s family. The managers asked me about assisting Mark’s widow in the days ahead.
The whole experience reminded me of the importance of flexibility—being able to adapt to different situations, and helping people process grief in a way that feels authentic to them.
*Not his real name