The death of a colleague can be traumatic, especially for those in leadership positions. Educator Fred Ende, a curriculum and instructional services director in New York, explains that he could cope better following a recent loss by “welcoming the grief,” sharing his struggles over the loss with colleagues and allowing himself the time to heal.



A good colleague passed away a few weeks ago. Despite all the loss that we experienced during the first two years of COVID, this stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was that during the worst parts of COVID, we were always prepared for loss, or that we never moved too far from it. Or maybe we were some of the lucky ones who were only tangentially hit with loss at the worst times.

Whatever the reason, from the time I heard the news until the time that my body and mind could actually process, I was literally incapable of effective work, engagement and sense-making. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has experienced loss recently, but our own reactions to loss can surprise us at best and incapacitate us at worst. Leading through loss is rough.

While there are many strategies we can take when leading through loss, here are three that I was able to put into practice during my most recent experience with this difficult time and process.


Welcome the grief

One hard part (at least for me) of loss is that I have to allow those challenging feelings in. Welcoming grief is hard for many of us, and, as I have learned, if I attempt to keep it shut out, it just comes through in other ways.As a leader, the best option for me in these cases is to let it in as it needs to enter, because then, at least, I can recognize its appearance and its impact on me.