Chapter 4: If you are a leader at work

The person’s belongings

We agreed to leave her desk untouched until we could contact her family. It was a bit surreal to see it, but somehow it felt respectful.

If the person died unexpectedly, their personal belongings may still be at work. Seeing their empty space will likely have an impact on you and others. It can be distressing to see it untouched, but it can also be upsetting to see someone else move into the space.

If the person’s next of kin has not asked about the person’s belongings, it is best to wait to contact them until some time has passed. If possible, give them choices as to whether they would like the person’s belongings packed up, have them delivered, or picked up at some point. Everyone is different. Some people may find it helpful while others may find it harmful or painful.

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If someone wants to come in to collect belongings…




…give them a choice as to whether they would prefer to do this during or outside working hours.

…ask if they want to pack the belongings themselves or have someone else pack them up



If the family would like someone at work to pack up and deliver the belongings…



…you might ask some of the people who were close to the person at work if they would like to do this. Ensure they understand it is their choice.