When someone you work with has a sick relative, it is natural to want to express your condolences. You may feel like you are intruding on their privacy, but a few words of support can mean a lot. First, let them know you are thinking of them. You might say something like, “I’m so sorry to hear about your sick relative. I hope they recover quickly.” By expressing your condolences, you are showing that you care about your coworker and his/her family.
While it is ok to ask how the sick relative is doing, avoid prying into too much detail. Ultimately, just be there for your coworker during this difficult time. You want to be supportive, but you do not want to overstep your bounds. Here are a few tips on how to express condolences to a coworker who has a sick relative:
1. Listen. Sometimes, all a person wants is someone to lend a sympathetic ear. So, simply ask how your coworker is doing and let them talk.
2. Offer practical help. If your coworker is struggling to balance work and caregiving, see if there is anything you can do to lighten their load. Can you take on some of their tasks at work? Or run an errand for them?
3. Send a card. A handwritten note from the heart shows that you care about your coworker and their situation. Remember to keep it simple. A short, sincere message of sympathy is usually best. Also, avoid platitudes – phrases like “Everything happens for a reason” or “We never are given more than we can handle” can come across as insensitive or trite.
Do consider whether the person you work with would appreciate your words of sympathy. Some people prefer to keep their personal lives separate from their work lives, and may not want their coworkers to know about their sick relative. Think about how you would feel in the same situation. Would you want your coworkers to express their condolences? Or would you prefer that they just go about their business as usual? If you are not sure whether the person would appreciate your condolences, err on the side of caution, and do not say anything.
It is important to be sensitive when speaking with your coworker. This person is likely going through a tough time and needs support, so be sure to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as insensitive or hurtful. If you are unsure about what to say, simply express your condolences and let the person know that you are there for them.