Grief Warrior was born out of Leslie Barber’s tragic personal experience—the sudden death of her husband, Steve, at 46 years old. This life-changing event, and the grief Leslie has since endured, led her to found Grief Warrior. The company is dedicated to changing how individuals, companies, and our society at large thinks about and handles grief. 

Grief Warrior is both a mission and a movement. What began as a thoughtful gift box for grievers has evolved into a comprehensive selection of offerings including a training series for managers and HR, a Grief Squad crisis response team, 1:1 coaching and counseling, digital courses, and keynote presentations.

In this conversation, Leslie shares why it’s so important for leaders to learn how to be compassionate, empathetic, and supportive during an employee’s most difficult time. Such efforts include learning what we shouldn’t say to someone who’s grieving. (For example, never start a sentence with “At least …” or suggest that, “God needed another angel.”) Leslie points out that mastering such so-called “soft” skills to support grievers can directly improve things like productivity, morale, and retention. In other words, learning how to help people “feel human at work” (as one Grief Warrior participant put it), is fundamentally good for business. 

With an impressive NPS score of 85, it’s clear that Grief Warrior’s services are effective—and essential. Leslie explains how she has grown Grief Warrior to a team of 20 and how she’s continuing to expand her business. As she tells us about her mission to become the “Brene Brown of grief,” Leslie says, “We can’t make grief better, but maybe we can make it less awful.” 

Willow Older, a friend of the podcast, is a co-host on this episode. Willow is writer, editor, and co-founder of the must-follow Instagram account called Today I Noticed (@today.i.noticed).