What to do when a work colleague passes

One of my team members from work passed away last week. I was notified by his daughter. This was a new experience for me as I've only indirectly worked with one other person that died. This situation was different because I was his 'manager' and it was my responsibility to inform his colleagues.

  1. emotion is natural and expected. If you feel like you need to cry do so. If you want to try and hold back the tears look up or drink some water - it tends to help.
  2. in notifying colleagues say what you truly feel and relay any information the family has requested you pass on. This could be dates of the memorial service, names of charities you may make a donation to in lieu of flowers and in our situation, a final word to his colleagues.
  3. if you are the deceased's 'direct report' then you must contact the HR department. They will do all the paperwork for life insurance and notify the other departments. If they do not distribute a notice of memoriam within the work place it is the department's, who the individual worked in, responsibility.
  4. express your condolensces to the family. Say what you feel but don't dwell on the details or manner of death. Ask if there is anything you can do at any time to be of service. Nothing more needs to be said.
  5. when in lieu of flowers appears on the death notice the family has put it there upon the deceased's request or because they honestly feel the contribution will help them feel comfort knowing some good will come. A cheque is sent to the charity with a note saying, "This donation is sent in loving memory of Mr. X McABC, of 10 Park Place, Mount Vernon." If family members who should receive an acknowledgement did not live with the deceased, mention the name and address to which the acknowledgement should be sent; "Please send the acknowledgement to..." Your address should also appear on the note. The charity then sends an acknowledgement, which lets the donor know the contribution has been received and can also be used as a tax deduction. The charity also sends a notice of contribution to the family of the deceased.
  6. gifts of cash should never be sent directly to the family in place of flowers or a charitable contribution. However, a group, club, neighbours or work colleagues may take up a collection for a bereaved person who is in financial difficulty.
  7. if the hour and location of the funeral service is made public it is considered unkind not to go to the public funeral of a person with whom you have been closely associated with in business.