How To Inform Your Boss About The Death of A Family Member

Even though it is a reality we would rather not discuss; everything has an expiry date – and human life is no exception to this universal rule.

At some point in your life, you will have to deal with the loss of a loved one. The implication of which would always be the painful process of trying to stay afloat in their absence while grieving; most of which will be impossible in a structured work environment.

So what do you do instead?

Talking to Your Boss About The Death Of a Family Member

The truth remains that, if it weren’t for the boundaries existent in the workplace; this shouldn’t be a hard task to accomplish. But admitting your vulnerability to people you would other wise not interact with might prove daunting, so going in – be rest-assured that most people already know that dealing with loss is tough; no further explanation is required.

If you have been informed about a death in your family, the last thing on your mind would be the articulation of going through due process to inform your office manager. To save you time, and torment, only contact your immediate supervisor or human resources department and give them as much detail of the information as you are comfortable sharing (at that point)

For instance, a simple phone call that says “I have recently lost my family member, and their funeral is next week, I’ll be back in the office in two weeks” might suffice.

Or, in an email you might decide to include a few additional details “”There was a death in my family. I’m  thoroughly devastated. My sincerest apologies but I have to concentrate on funeral arrangements. Thank you for your understanding with letting our family grieve in privacy. I will return to work on soonest.”

Ultimately, nobody will hound you to provide information that you aren’t comfortable with sharing. If you are okay with your supervisor sharing the details with your co-workers you don’t mind having people from your office attend the ceremony or visitation, it is no bother. However,   You shouldn’t feel as if you need to personally send an email to your co-workers to break the news.

Request Formally For A Bereavement Leave

While it seems like an unnecessary gesture, considering that you have verbally informed the management about your situation,  a formal bereavement leave letter will serve as documentation if misunderstanding about your absence ensues.

And if you are conversant with official proceedings, you probably already know that ‘handshake’ and ‘word-of-mouth’ deals are dangerous; not to mention, legally useless when the need arises to use them in your defense.

You can request for a bereavement leave via hard-copy letter or Email. Regardless of the means used, the letter should contain the following details;

  • Information about the deceased, and their relationship with you.
  • The date of the persons passing
  • Funeral arrangement details (and perhaps an invitation to management if it is immediate family)
  • The date for the leave to proceed, and your resumption to official duties.
  • Contact details (if your employers need to contact you in your time away)


Finally, how to inform your boss about the death of a family member might be critical, but it certainly shouldn’t be your biggest worry when you’re trying to grieve. So focus on your self, and when you are ready to return to the world and all its concerns, it will certainly be waiting for you.



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