7 Ways to Help Your Team “Bounce Up” in times of Grief

One of phrases we discussed in last week’s post was “Get over it.” We noted that trauma disables our innovative strategy and as leaders we must work to connect, to collaborate and create. In the process, we work to help others “bounce up” from what has taken them down.

Murfield Coaching works to help individuals and organizations think bigger and reach higher to do what others never thought possible. This often includes creating a culture of compassion to engage and empower teams to become disruptive leaders. When we take the effort to care and connect, we can collaborate and create the ultimate performance, production and profits. 

The Problem

“Get over it.”

“How can you say that? I loved my father. I miss him. I will NEVER get over missing him.”

Our communication during times of grief is often clumsy but well-meaning. Having lost both parents and an adult son, I know that we will always miss them and, therefore, never get over the grief. However, I also know that to be healthy we must be resilient, bouncing up from the things that drag us down. That is what most are referring to when they say to “get over it.” I know some who never do bounce up (you really can’t bounce back since we can never have what we once had when our loved one was alive.) Those that can’t or refuse to move on hurt themselves and provide an obstacle for an innovative team. Moral of the story: Let’s find a better way to show our concern by dumping the cliché comments. Also, let’s be less sensitive to well-meaning comments. They aren’t trying to be inconsiderate, just a little clumsy with their words.

Communicate Compassion

So what do we say? Or do we say anything at all? 

Good question.

Working with anyone in grief is a unique situation. What works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else. We know from experience and our research that when have lost a loved one, that what helped us didn’t necessarily help others. What worked for others didn’t necessarily help us. Also, what worked at one time, didn’t work at a different time. Grief is a personal process.

Helping an innovative team member work through grief is a critical component to disruption. After all, grief happens when life disrupts us. Helping them disrupt the disruption helps them and the entire team bounce up and forward to accomplish seemingly impossible goals

Here are 7 suggestions to consider before saying anything.  

Make no mistake, compassion is THE BEST business strategy and practice. 

1. Say Nothing

First of all, do we really need to say anything? Of course, we want to help and want to encourage them. That is a given. But stop and consider that maybe a hug or a pat on the back is saying more than any words could. Most of all, not speaking may be a great way to avoid saying something stupid or inconsiderate. By the way, that is what usually happens, we say things just to break the silence. That is when the clumsy comments come out. When in doubt, don’t say anything.

Here’s a suggestion: Connect in silence.

2. Be Present

Second, put your words into action. If you know someone well, you will know when they most appreciate just sitting with them. You don’t have to say a word but your presence is comforting. Practice being present without intruding. It can be very comforting.  Sometimes presence says more than any words could. 

Here’s another suggestion: Connect with your presence.

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3. Do Something

Third, do something. If you know them well, you will knowwhat they will need and appreciate. Bring them their favorite food. Don’t ask –just do it. In times of grief, decision making is difficult so don’t ask them to do anymore. Make their life easier by giving what they need but didn’t knowthey wanted. Nike is right, there is a time to ‘just do it.’

Try this. Connect with your actions.

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4.  Allow them Solitude

Fourth, recognize there are times when they want and need to be alone. Seek to understand when those times are and how much they need. Be conscious that too much time is rarely healthy but quiet, alone moments are often helpful, especially after the hectic events surrounding the loss.

Connect in their need for solitude.

5. Be Honest

Fifth, be honest. Death sucks. Don’t be afraid of saying it. In those raw moments, we are all feeling it. Don’t be afraid to state aloud what you know they are thinking.

Within this approach, forget the advice. It isn’t helpful.

Connect with them in their grief by understanding it from their perspective and agreeing aloud with them. Use the words they can identify with.

Here’s another suggestion: Be Authentic.

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6. Invite Them

Sixth, invite them. Eventually, they need to get out and establish a “new normal.” Make it easy to say “yes” but understand it still may be difficult for them so they will say “no.” But don’t give up. Be gentle but persistent. The best way you can help them bounce up is to take them forward. If you were a friend before and understand them well, you know what they will enjoy. Keep asking gently.

This may be a suggestion that works real well. Connect with an invitation.

Disruptive Innovation Coaching

7. Invite Yourself Along

Seventh, invite yourself along. This might sound a little intrusive but if they are going somewhere and sound hesitant, offer to accompany them. That might be just what they needed. It will also give them an excuse if they simply want to make an appearance but don’t want to stay long. Make it easy for them to bounce up.

This suggestion might seem a bit forward. Connect with your companionship.

(c) 2019 Murfield International, Inc.



Loren Murfield, Ph.D.

I work with leaders and organizations think bigger and reach higher to find breakthrough success. This is a process that I can help you learn. Begin the process today by contacting me. 

Start learning how you can engage employees during their most traumatic moments in our newly revised and just released book, “The ROI of COMPASSION.” Watch for the release of our new book, “Leading with the Power of Compassion” in June, 2019.

ROI of Compassion 2018

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