Returning to Work After the Loss of a Loved One

| End-of-Life Resources

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After losing a loved one, you may find that returning to work is the last thing you want to do. In a perfect world, you would expect for your employers and coworkers to be educated about the grieving process and show some compassion. However, you may unfortunately find that there are some who are completely ignorant about the grieving process and may actually say some thoughtless and mean spirited remarks upon your return. You may also find yourself struggling in your work environment and feeling emotionally overwhelmed dealing with the loss of your loved one. It can be a difficult process trying to find the “normal” in your life, but there may be a few ways to alleviate a little bit of the stress and make going back to work a little less difficult.

  • Prepare your co-workers for your return. Most likely you would have been in contact with the human resources department of your work place after the loss of your loved one. You can inform your HR department how much information if any at all you may want your co-workers to know. You could even inform your manager to let others know if you would like to ignore the issue and not mention your loved one’s death or if you want them to be upfront with the death of your loved one. Your HR department and your manager can pass any necessary information along to your co-workers to help make the situation a little more comfortable for you.
  • Be prepared for small talk. The workplace is full of small talk, so you need to be prepared for it. Your coworkers will ask how you have been, what you have been up to or many other typical questions, which is normal and easy for everyone to answer. However, you may find these questions far from easy with all the stress and emotions you have been going through. It may seem impossible to answer some of these questions, but if you practice ahead of time and try to find ways to divert the conversation to more comfortable topics, you may find it much easier to deal with your coworkers. You could also try to ask others about themselves and get them talking more to divert the attention away from you.
  • Find ways to stay focused. Grief can wreak havoc on our concentration and make it seem impossible to focus. Even the easiest most simple task at work can seem complicated and impossible to complete. You may want to develop new ways to stay focused and keep your work on track. You could try using to-do lists or keeping track of things in a personal organizer. You could break larger tasks down into smaller and easier tasks. You could also try to take an extra breaks throughout the day to help get your mind back on track. There are many ways to try and make yourself stay focused. You just have to find the ways that work best for you. Remember even if you never needed to use these strategies before, you may need them now.
  • Get some alone time. It can be overwhelming, and there may feel like there are times during the workday that you just want to break down and cry. If this happens, excuse yourself and find a place that you can be alone. You could go to the bathroom, step outside for some fresh air, sit in your car or find any empty room available and just breathe. If you have trouble finding a secluded place talk to your manager or HR department and see if they know of any place you can be alone just to catch your breath.

It can be a long and hard journey going back to work after losing a loved one. However, eventually we will find ourselves back at work and having to deal with all the emotional stress out in the open. The one thing you need to do is keep the line of communication open. Keep your HR department and your manager informed of how you are managing at work. If there are any problems or anything you may need to help your day go a little smoother, do not be afraid to go to them with your thoughts and concerns. It may seem impossible at first but soon with time you will find yourself finding your rhythm once again and slowly getting back into your work.


Helen Bishop
MOBI Funeral Supply


| End-of-Life Resources

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