Workplace Grief

Grief in the Workplace Crisis Debriefing

When an employee is diagnosed with a serious illness or has died unexpectedly, colleagues of the deceased often experience a variety of strong reactions. Strong personal bonds are formed within work groups, and the impact of the illness or death of a colleague can be profound. A member of our staff will come to your office to facilitate a crisis debriefing. This experience will offer your staff a safe environment to express feelings and reactions to the illness or death and provide relevant information regarding normal reactions to such an event. Focus will also be placed on self-care strategies for coping with this situation. This debriefing usually includes both group and individual counseling sessions.

Comments from former clients:

  • Ben spent a day working with staff at our close-knit office after the unexpected and deeply traumatic death of our Executive Director. His assistance was deft and helpful, and we would highly recommend his services to organizations coping with trauma and loss.

Daryl Samuel, Director of HR and Administration, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest."

  • Ross Stores experienced a tremendous loss this past year with the passing of one of our Senior Vice Presidents. When we learned of her terminal illness, we immediately reached out to Ben, as we knew that her passing would inevitably affect so many members of her staff. Ben’s expertise, calm demeanor and approach to the situation helped us develop a communication plan that allowed us to support the organization during their time of need. Ben was readily available and showed great care. As we managed this difficult situation, Ben provided a tremendous sense of support and clarity.

Christine Merletto, Senior Director, Associate Relations, Ross Stores, Inc

  • Benyamin came to our school after we had endured the death of a child in our program. The timing of the death happened to be during our first week back to school where we had planned on doing classroom set up, multiple professional developments, team bonding, and all of the other regular back to school routines. The loss stopped us all in our tracks and our small team were completely overwhelmed with shock, sadness, and grief. We knew it was critical to properly grieve as a community before opening up our arms to all of our children for the new school year.Many of the teachers had a very strong relationship with the child, and felt great unease to enter into the room where the child once happily played and learned. When Benyamin came to speak to our group, he created a nurturing and warm environment for our staff to voice their sadness, concerns, anxieties and previous trauma that may have been impacting how they were processing this traumatic event. He discussed the definitions of different kinds of grief, and continued to remind us and ease our minds that within our community we are okay and safe. He raised open ended questions that allowed our staff to further elaborate on their thoughts and offered validation and active listening throughout the session. Benyamin also offered and taught breathing exercises that we could use when feeling anxious or when we just need to decompress. The room felt much lighter by the time we were done with Benyamin and after this devastating heartbreak, that is exactly how we needed to feel. Benyamin truly created a safe space where he could stretch our thinking and he slowed us down when it felt like the world around us was spiraling like a tornado. We appreciate Benyamin for all that he has done in helping our team process and begin to move forward.

From an Early Childhood Learning Center Administrator

  • I work on my company's HR team, and I blindly contacted Ben after the sudden unexpected death of a beloved colleague. Although I came to Ben as a total stranger, he was immediately open to speaking with me and quickly responsive and open to coming in to speak with my team. He was also very flexible to work around our schedule as we were unsure when the funeral would be, and we were not able to lock down a date for his onsite visit. Ben was very understanding, open and comfortable to communicate with, and that comfort extended to my team when he came in to meet with us in-person. Ben led our team through a grief counseling session and provided a safe and open space for our team to grieve. I appreciated how much time was spent allowing us to speak openly about our memories and feelings. Ben also gave us concrete tools to use as we process our grief. Ben also held a few private individual sessions with our team, and I received positive feedback after those as well. Amid the upheaval and uncertainty after a colleague's death, Ben provided genuine care, support, and flexibility.

From a Human Resources Professional of a New York City Business employing 200 people

  • Ben Cirlin has been a tremendous support to the staff teams here at Lantern Community Services.  The staff in our supportive housing sites work closely over a long period of time with our tenants, and losses to this community are emotionally difficult on a professional and personal level.  Ben has been coming in to meet with the staff teams after these events and his knowledge of grief and skills for facilitating groups has been invaluable for the teams to process their feelings.  Below are some quotes from a few of the Program Directors at the sites:“The group Grief session went well today… It allowed all of us to come together and celebrate our efforts by providing the best care we can leading up to the expected and unexpected deaths that we encounter. It also touched on how to deal with transference and maintaining self-wellness. Thank you for setting this up.”“ …this was one of the best grief counseling sessions that I’ve had.  Ben was very organized with his questions and engaged staff to allow responses/thoughts shared by those that attended.  Overall, I think it was extremely helpful.”

Amy Berg LCSW, Chief Program Officer, Lantern Community Services

  • The sudden death of the president of our organization left us feeling shocked and devastated.  It was our goal to find a trusted professional that could provide us with resources and tools to help us understand and deal with grief in the workplace. Benyamin Cirlin of The Center for Loss and Renewal offered the services that we needed.  Mr. Cirlin was very attentive and responsive to our needs.  Thanks to Mr. Cirlin we were able to quickly offer debriefing services that were effective and well received.  The flexibility of participating via Zoom worked during the pandemic made it possible for us to safely offer services to our employees.  Mr. Cirlin did an excellent job of creating an environment where employees felt safe to be vulnerable and express their feelings.  We are glad that we had this opportunity to work with Benyamin to help us jump start the helping process.

Tenisha Williamson, Executive Assistant to the President, UFCW Local 342

  • Ben - just a quick note to say thank you so very much for your professionalism and the sensitivity in which you engaged in helping the Republic Clothing Family move towards the process of healing. Our employees have expressed their profound thanks for the way you were able to address each person in making them feel validated in their grief response. Your approach and sensitivity during the communal session was very helpful in showing the staff that there was not just one way to express grief. You validated that there are many ways to express and experience grief and helping us to share those thoughts out loud helped in making the mood lighter because we realized that we shared our grief in a meaningful way. The individual sessions were also a great idea for those employees who needed it and they have all praised your approach in helping them to cope. Again, thanks so very much – the Republic Clothing Family truly valued our meeting with you.

Sandy Leon-Gonzales, Director of Human Resources, Republic Clothing Corp

  • Ben came in at the last minute and ran a group for us for employees who had recently lost a colleague due to sudden illness. Ben’s facilitation was thoughtful, and employees shared their feelings openly. I think it provided a space for people to share their sadness, their anger, and their love of their co-worker. I heard from employees afterwards that they were grateful to have the time and space to start to process this loss. It showed that we are a caring employer.

Liz Sharpe, Director of Human Resources, The Public Theater:


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Saying Goodbye After Goodbye

A Workshop on Loss and the Interface Between the Professional and the Personal

~ Presented by R. Benyamin Cirlin, L.C.S.W.

Grief Workshops | Loss Workshops Manhattan | New York City | NYCSAYING GOODBYE AFTER GOODBYE is our most popular presentation to professionals and interested lay persons. It has been presented as a full day seminar at twenty-four hospices across the nation and in a shortened version to eight regional, national and international audiences. Click here to see some of the locations where we have presented the seminar. (PDF)

SAYING GOODBYE AFTER GOODBYE is an engaging and stimulating workshop aimed at helping professional and volunteer caregivers manage painful and difficult separations in both professional and personal arenas.

It is well known that failure to pay heedful attention to the grief of the professional caregiver leads to staff burnout and termination. Using the termination of a professional relationship as a paradigm for all losses, each seminar participant will:

  • LEARN a comprehensive framework for understanding loss and bereavement.
  • ACQUIRE concrete and practical tools for helping family members cope with the painful feelings of grief.
  • DEVELOP an understanding of the phenomena of "chronic staff grief."
  • INCREASE awareness of countertransference traps that inhibit successful clinical work.
  • DISCOVER an accessible and useful protocol for engaging family members in the work of "goodbye."

SAYING GOODBYE AFTER GOODBYE is presented in a dynamic and evenly paced manner that engages participants both intellectually and emotionally - as professionals and as growing human beings. Participants are encouraged to learn about their own grief reactions through experiential exercises that increase personal learning and foster team building.

The exercises will allow participants to:

  • ASSESS personal styles of grieving.
  • IDENTIFY unfinished grief business.
  • CONFRONT old and out of date messages about loss and expression of feelings.
  • ACCESS key countertransference issues that impede successful "goodbyes."

The workshop day ends with a memorial service that provides participants with an opportunity to personally acknowledge and honor significant patients and loved ones that have died. The service blends music, inspirational readings, and guided visualization to allow for an experiential "saying goodbye" that fosters individual growth and clinical team unity. This service can serve as a model for regular use in a clinical program.

SAYING GOODBYE AFTER GOODBYE allows an entire staff of professionals and volunteers an opportunity to engage in deep learning that is frequently limited to the lucky few who attend outside conferences and workshops.

The fee for the workshop is $2,000 plus expenses. To schedule a workshop or to receive more information, call Ben at 212-874-4711 or e-mail us at

Community Medical Center Hospice
- Toms River, New Jersey 

The comments of participants, both written and verbal, spoke to your honesty and intimate understanding of Hospice work, and you certainly exceeded all of our expectations for the day. More over, the program served to unify, renew, and recharge all of us as only the truly gifted speakers are able to do. Many of the attendees have already asked for your return.

~ Judy A. Conarty, RNC, Asst. Director - (908) 914-2100

Covenant Hospice Care Program
- Urbana, Illinois 

Your sensitivity, energy, and practical approach were well received by our staff and volunteers. The material that you shared enabled us to look within ourselves and figure out what our needs may be in dealing with our personal as well as professional issues regarding death and loss. The memorial service was a very special way to end the day. Your humor was greatly appreciated...When the audience leaves wanting more, you know you've done a great job!

~ Marlene Hart, Volunteer Coordinator - (217) 337-2273

Hospice of Jackson
- Jackson, Michigan 

Your gentle approach, interactive style, grand story telling, use of metaphor, and knowledge of the subject, served to make this workshop a most productive one...A new awareness has been generated for my staff in regard to their own grief issues and how they can deal with them more appropriately, and how they can more fully help the patients and families they serve. They definitely want you back for a follow-up workshop! Your program is definitely of the highest quality in content and presentation.

~ Michael L. Freytag, MA, LPC, Executive Director - (517) 783-2648

Hospice Care of the Lowcountry, Inc.
- Hilton Head, South Carolina 

Your material was well organized and relevant, but even more important was the style in which it was presented - calmly, with warmth and gentleness. Many people who heard you felt that you have been of enormous help in their individual lives as well as in their work. We are grateful to you.

Carole Klein, Administrator - (803) 681-7813

  • Click here to read more participant testimonials on SAYING GOODBYE AFTER GOODBYE

Comments are always welcome. Contact us with any feedback or questions you may have.

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