When a Child Dies: Grief Self-Quiz

Parents expect their children to outlive them. When a child dies, the parents’ grief affects their lives forever. Take this quiz and learn the best ways for a professional woman to handle grief when she or a co-worker loses a child. Put an “X” next to the answer that you think is the wisest choice.

  1. Sally’s five year-old son died of leukemia three weeks ago, and she seems fine.

    __A. You tell her how well she is handling it.

    __B. You mail a condolence card to her home.

    __C. You send her uplifting emails at work weekly.

  2. Your teenaged son has just died of an accidental overdose of legal and illegal drugs.

    __A. You tell your co-workers that he was a good kid and wasn’t on drugs.

    __B. You ask colleagues to contribute to an anti-drug charity.

    __C. You announce at work that your son has died of an accidental overdose and that you are accepting visits at your home for the next two weeks after work hours.

  3. Ted’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver seven months ago, and he looks more tired at work than before.

    __A. At the water cooler you nod your head when a colleague says Ted sure is taking time to get over things.

    __B. You invite him for dinner.

    __C. At work you tell him he looks very tired and that you are worried about him.

  4. Tabby’s daughter was abducted three years ago, and she’s kept the investigation alive with the help of a specialized support group.

    __A. On the anniversary of the abduction, you mail a condolence card to her home.

    __B. You think secretly that the daughter will probably not be found alive.

    __C. You give to charities for missing and exploited children.

Scoring and Explanations

  1. The temporary calm in the first few months of grief is the brain’s emotional shut-down so the person can attend to practical issues such as money or legal issues. Telling someone they are doing well is not empathic and does not acknowledge the loss. Weekly emails at work stir the emotional pot and interfere with the co-worker’s job performance. Mail a card to her home—and follow up with offers of meals and friendship after work hours. No points for A, Two for B, One for C. Read explanation 3 to learn more about grief and time.
  2. Inviting co-workers to your home to express their support sets the boundaries for their behavior. You don’t owe anyone the whole story of your life. Protect yourself from unnecessary intrusiveness. Asking them to contribute to a charity might offer them a way to express their grief, but it might intrude on them. Two points for A, One for B, Three for C. To learn about the importance of setting boundaries at work, read explanations 1 and 3.
  3. Grief is highly personalized, but the emotional rollercoaster often worsens after the third or fourth month. At work don’t get caught gossiping, confronting or judging. Social support is critical in all healing. Invite him to dinner and express your support during after work hours. No points for A, Two for B, One for C. Explanation 1 also offers information about grieving time.
  4. Each family handles loss differently. Be supportive. Send a card or give to charity. Even though the success rate of recovering abducted children is low, you are wise to keep your negativity private. Three points for A, B or C. Review all explanations to learn how to handle grief at work.


4-6 Read the explanations again to learn more about grief.

7-8 You are really trying to do the right thing. Now take your learning one more step.

9-10 Great job! Teach others what you know.

This article first appeared in www.w2wlink.com, the premier community for professional women. Check out their website to read more of my articles that help women with career, work, family and relationships.

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Author's Bio: 

LeslieBeth Wish is a Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker and author who is nationally recognized for her contributions to women, love, relationships, family, career, workplace, and organizations.

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