The voice on the other end was dazed. “What are these people going to do? How can I support them in their grief?”

Holly Duckworth, Spirit Strategist, to businesses internationally, recognized the bewilderment of her association colleagues. The sudden death of the beloved Shane Yates had plunged them all into the vortex of grief.

Shane Yates, executive director of the Ohio Society of Association Executives (OSAE) died too soon. His sudden death did not allow for a final in-person connection, a heartfelt good-bye. He was a client, a cheerleader, a kick-starter of careers. Bigger than life, always there to inspire, visionary enthusiast and abruptly snatched from their midst, they as an association were reeling. Shane’s unanticipated death plunged them into the vortex of grief during the weekend. The one bit of brightness was many of them did have the weekend to feel their grief. To wail and weep uncontrollably as the shock of Shane’s departure sunk in, each began their mourning in the privacy of their home.

Now what? It was Monday morning. I reminded Holly that the mantras “Just keep going. Gotta Move on.” are what American businesses emulate. There is no time to mindfully breathe into business grief. To collapse into the tsunami of sadness. There is no place for a collection of flowers, messages and photos in the workplace.

Holly and I collaborated. We wrote to them:

As an association, we can embrace mindful grieving and intentional mourning to honor Shane and each of us. Shane’s legacy can expand as we model for America what grief and mourning should really look like, sound like and feel like. Why not the world of associations educate business, as we so often do?

Mindful Grieving is the process of:

  • recognizing the many facets of grief (feelings, physical, mental and spiritual)
  • feeling, listening to and experiencing the dissipation of fear using mindfulness
  • exploring the tools of curiosity, discovery, object permanence and self-care as supports to move through and eventually beyond grief.

Intentional Mourning is emoting the deep, dark, anguished feelings emerging as grief through wailing, sobbing for days, crying for hours, moving, creating or expression emotion in the presence of others or in solitude.

How could our workplaces support our bereaved colleagues with mindful grieving and intentional mourning? Here are three tools.

Notice how you are feeling in your body. Is there an ache or pain that is new or intensified? Simply pause.

Turn your attention there and then breathe in deeply through your nose and gently blow the air out through your rounded lips.

Grief lives in the body. We’ve got to feel it to heal it.

Be in the present moment when you are with one another. Really look at the person you are speaking to.

Relax and lighten up. Remember Shane’s laughter.

Finally, what is the one thing that you admired about Shane? When you spot it you got it. Translation: that quality, characteristic, action is really mirrored in you. Write out and place on your desk “I miss Shane’s _____. So I will shine my light a little brighter and be that now.” Leave it out on your desk as long as you wish.

As I pause a moment to remember Shane I remember how profoundly he lived, he laughed, and he loved. May we all shine our light a little brighter knowing Shane. May we be reminded to never take one moment for granted. In love and sympathy –


Co-authors: Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP, consultant to CEOs and executives. She helps businesses increase results by facilitating strategic planning sessions, teaming with leaders to co-create new visions, and introducing new and proven approaches to leadership.

Georgena Eggleston, MA. CRS, Trauma Specialist, Grief Guide owner of Grief Guide for those touched by suicide, sudden death, and deep grief. Author of A New Mourning: Discovering the Gifts in Grief.

If you’re struggling with the emotional process of grief...

I want to share a free gift with you that can help you recognize the physical, cognitive and emotional reactions you may be experiencing. You’ll also take away prompts to use daily along your journey.

Click the button below to get started!