When someone at work suffers a great loss, it can be hard to find the right words to comfort them. Although loss and grieving happens to everyone at some point, we may not know the best way to offer support.

Mindtools.com suggests that to be empathetic, we should keep these six things in mind:

  • Find a private space to chat so your co-worker doesn’t feel compelled to share their grief with everyone.
  • Make the first move.  Simply ask, “How are you feeling right now?” Assure them that your conversation is confidential, and honor your word.
  • Show empathy by using the same language they use to describe the loss.
  • Avoid prescriptive advice. Resists comments that start with “You shoulds” or “If I were you.”
  • Avoid empty words. Cliché phrases like “I know how you feel” or “Things will get better” rarely help.
  • Give the person space. Don’t push them to break their silence. Silence may be just what they need to reflect on what has happened.