Death of a Manager or Supervisor

The death of a manager in the workplace creates several challenges for both the business and the employees. In many work environments, employees and managers form personal and business relationships. As a team, these individuals spend many hours together, producing very strong bonds. Managers and employees go through both the joys and pains of life – in and out of the workplace.

As a result, it may be difficult for many employees to cope with this loss. This is especially true if the relationship had been a lengthy one, or if the manager was viewed as a mentor by the employee. In addition to demonstrating sensitivity and understanding to the family of the manager and employees, the business also has to blend the very real need to operate and remain productive.

Sending a condolence gift is a common and appropriate way to express sympathy to friends, colleagues, clients and others. Depending on the traditions and customs observed by the individual the most traditional items include baked goods and desserts, fruit, dried fruit, & nuts, and assorted chocolates. These types of gift items provide both comfort and nourishment to mourning families and are a respectful way to offer condolences.

Sending a Condolence Gift

Following a death, the family gathers and often receives many visitors. One of the most customary and traditional ways to express sympathy and offer condolences is by bringing or sending food and condolence baskets to the family members of the deceased. There are several different types of food arrangements, baskets and sympathy gifts that may be sent. Appropriate food items and gift baskets include baked goods and desserts, fruit, dried fruit, & nuts, and assorted chocolates. A gift basket is generally delivered or shipped to the home of the mourning family. When a family is mourning a loss, it is common to provide support and comforting items. Additionally, those who cannot attend the funeral or memorial service may consider sending a sympathy basket or other condolence item to the home.


Find and Send a Condolence Gift

Select a sympathy gift that helps to comfort family and friends. You can trust eCondolence.com’s team of professionals to express your condolences appropriately. You will find the highest-quality products and items carefully selected by the eCondolence.com team that are appropriate to send family, friends, colleagues and others.

Gourmet Gifts Baked Goods & Desserts Fruit Baskets Assorted Chocolates

Additional Ways to Express Condolences

The type of condolence offered is often determined by the type of relationship and the circumstances of the death. Here are some things to consider in determining the right expressions of condolence.

  • Appropriate Ways to Offer Condolences. Expressions of sympathy through a sympathy card to the family is a common way to allow the family to know they are being thought of. Depending on the traditions and culture of the deceased, flowers sent to the funeral home or directly to the family, sympathy gift baskets, including fruit baskets, or donations to a charity or academic organization can be a meaningful way to show care and concern.
  • Attending the Funeral and/or Visiting the Family. While visitations, wakes and funerals are a comfort to the family, the mourning rituals can also bring strength and security to the co-workers. Gathering with others who loved or appreciated the deceased can provide a healthy atmosphere to allow grieving to take place. If the manager lived far away, a memorial service can be planned at the workplace.
  • Contacting the Manager’s Family. Though a relationship with family members may have never had an occasion to develop, sympathy notes and cards from co-workers can bring a great deal of comfort to ease the pain and hurt of the surviving family members. It is an appropriate and very proper way to send condolences.

Types of Loss: The Death of a Manager or Supervisor

There are many kinds and levels of intensity of the grief that is felt when a manager in the workplace dies. Some of those feelings of grief will be dependent upon the circumstances of the death. If the manager’s death was sudden, feelings of shock and disbelief will likely permeate the mind and emotions. If the death occurred under tragic or harsh conditions, the feelings of shock are often compounded by anger and perhaps a numbness toward life. Even if the manager’s death came after a prolonged illness, there still may be feelings of disbelief and depression when the event finally occurs.

If a manager was a close friend, the feelings of grief may be similar to mourning the loss of a companion and confidant. The relationship may have come to embrace the family of the manager, so the loss will include compassion and empathy for the survivors. Even if a close friendship between the manager and employee had not developed, the amount of time spent together and the familiarity of expectations and performance may cause a change in the work environment.

Change in the Workplace

A manager’s death may stir feelings of stress and anxiety about security at the work. Questions about who will replace the manager, what different expectations will the new manager have, and what kind of relationship will develop with the new manager can bring about uncertainty. How will things be different without this manager present? How will the dynamics of the work team change? How will productivity be affected? How will these changes impact satisfaction with the job, performance evaluations and the future with the company?

The wide range and intensity of emotions of grief experienced during loss can impact the emotional and physical health of those impacted by the manager’s death. Although everyone copes with death differently, it is common to have trouble focusing on work for a short time after a death. Such lack of concentration may result in errors that can cause damage to the business economy or dangerous to others depending on the nature of the work.

Methods for Coping with the Loss of a Manager

Here are a couple of guidelines that may help during this grieving process.

  • Communicating with Co-Workers Following a Loss. In many instances sharing with co-workers following the death of a manager can help individuals to cope with the grief. Support from others is an important part of the grieving process. While some aspects of the business would not be an appropriate venue for sharing deep feelings of loss, break and lunch times would provide an informal setting where emotions could be shared. The business may also designate times and places for co-workers to share feelings and memories.
  • Employee Assistance Programs. While not every business offers programs for grief-sharing and counseling, many companies offer connections either through health care or outside contacts. Experienced counselors can offer group and individual sessions to help people come to terms with loss.
  • Changes at Work Following a Death Though the business will have to make adjustments because of the loss of the employee, most businesses understand that change in the workplace needs to occur systematically. Certainly there will be changes in leadership and the shifting of the responsibilities of the deceased to someone else. But decisions regarding the future of a department or the assignment of projects are most often made with regard to a strategic overall plan and not because of an unforeseen death.
  • Communicate with Senior Management. When a manager dies, the person who casts vision for the team, who was involved in the evaluation of the performance of team members, and who was viewed as a representative of the business and an authority on the job is no longer present. Upper management is usually open to hear the feelings that workers had for a deceased manager, as well as fears and concerns for the future.

With a caring spirit, respect for the deceased, patience for others and a dedication to the needs of the business, the attitude and concern of the employees will help the workplace weather the difficult time of the loss of a manager.