by Rachel Blythe Kodanaz
It is in our human nature to keep those who have passed away as a part of our current lives. While their physical presence is not available, their contributions to our lives will always remain. Therefore, after receiving several emails over the last few months offering ways to memorialize a deceased employee, I thought their suggestions might help to provide some ideas for others. Keep in mind that these ideas are made to trigger your own creativity, as I am aware that not all memorials will work for all types of work environments. The initiation of the memorial can come from the company, the manager or a co-worker. Here are a few examples:
- Have a wall plaque made that can be displayed in the lobby, if appropriate, or in the break room. The plaque may honor the deceased for contributions to the company or the office environment. This would be a low-cost memorial and could be made by any trophy or engraving company. To make it a special and sincere memory, the plaque could be hung during a dedication breakfast for all the involved employees.
- Display a picture of the deceased employee, including the years of employment and the position he or she held. This could be displayed in a similar way to the plaque described above, or it could be in addition to the plaque, making it even more personal.
- Build a memory book about the deceased. This would be a good activity to help with the grieving process. Employees could contribute to the book with photos and letters about the deceased employee, and describing the accomplishments he/she made. The book would represent the "work life" of the employee. As the employees write the letters and gather the information, they will be able to grieve the loss. After the memory book has been displayed at the office for a period of time, it would make a nice gift for the family. Since we spend so much of our time at work, it would be nice for the deceased’s family to be able to reflect on the hours their loved one spent away from home.
- A “Program Honoring the Deceased” could vary based on who the employee was, the circumstances around the death and the type of business. The program could be educational in nature or related to a hobby or activity the deceased had participated in.
Examples of a program:
- An athletic program
- A technically related educational program
- Working with the arts – theater, museum, etc.
- Continuing Education
- A work-related book club
The program could be held during regular working hours, a lunch-time "brown bag," or possibly during non-business hours. This would provide another outlet for grieving as well as a way to honor the deceased.
- Another type of program could be a new "policy" implemented at the company in honor of the deceased employee. This could be as simple as a training program with the employee’s name in it. The policy could state that each employee will receive eight hours a year of special training in honor of the employee who died.
- Another example is a cross training of responsibilities between two employees or work groups. This would be a win-win for the company. It would pair two employees or groups and have them teach each other their responsibilities. This would not only be educational, but would also help employees understand what other people do.
- A Recognition Day - This day could be scheduled once a year around the anniversary of the death. Not only would this honor the deceased employee, it would provide the work group with a time to be together every year on the anniversary.
Examples of a day of recognition:
- Pot-luck lunch
- "Dress down" day, making it a more informal day
- Office breakfast
- Family Picnic
- Off-site meeting – educational or employee team-building exercise
- Sports outing
- A road race honoring the deceased
Whichever activity is chosen, it could also serve as an employee-bonding day.
- Scholarship. One of the best ways to honor the deceased is by providing for the living. Developing a scholarship program in memory of the employee could involve the work group and company cooperating to provide support for the community. The ideas are endless. It could be an existing program that the employees take part in by volunteering to support the needs of the organization. For example; getting involved in a children's or medically related not-for-profit charity, or setting up a company scholarship that is given out each year. The work group could write the guidelines and criteria for awarding the scholarship and have fundraisers raise the money. (Or possibly the company could donate it.) The scholarship could be in the name of the deceased, and the absent employee would be recognized on a yearly basis
From "Good Grief Resources"