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Navigating grief in the workplace

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Navigating grief in the workplace

During the Live Well. Leave Well. Festival, the Singapore Hospice Council hosted a lunchtime talk titled “Quiet Cubicles: Facilitating Workplace Grief and Loss with Compassion” led by Dr Paul Victor Patinadan, Assistant Professor in the Psychology Programme at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

The talk threw a spotlight on the prevailing culture of silence around workplace grief and loss. It explored how the need to maintain professionalism often suppresses negative emotions and the challenges of acknowledging a colleague’s death. Dr Paul offered insights on being present for bereaved coworkers with mindfulness and compassion, promoting a more compassionate workplace.

In today’s workforce, where people spend more of their lives working, encountering the loss of a colleague becomes more common. This situation often leaves teams uncertain about when and how to move forward. Dr Paul introduced the concept of a communal Office “Last Office” process at the office, which acknowledges the loss, addresses emotions, honours the coworker’s memory, and facilitates the respectful return of personal effects to the family. Workplaces should consider conducting an Office “Last Office” as a dignified way to celebrate and bid farewell to a departed friend or colleague.

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