Returning to Work after a Bereavement: How to be most prepared!

Thinking about returning to work after a period of leave due to a loss or crisis can be overwhelming. Often when someone experiences a loss, it seems unfair that the world just does not take the time to stop spinning. After all, you are hurting and may feel it is difficult to accomplish even the most basic tasks. That is why it’s important to acknowledge even before answering the question of when to return to work… that is absolutely okay to take some time off or away from certain work responsibilities when you are grieving. 

Once you arrive at a place where you are ready to return to work it could be important to remember a few helpful tips:

  1. Recognize your capacity is lower than it was before your loss/crisis. 

When you are grieving it is normal to have less capacity for stress and less energy to accomplish tasks. Your body and mind are devoting a lot of resources to your grief. 

  1. Give trusted supervisors and coworkers a heads up.

It can be very helpful to let a trusted supervisor know what you are experiencing so that they can have an understanding that you will not be in the same place for a while after returning. It can also be very comforting to have a few coworkers that you consider safe people aware of your loss. It can be helpful to have their ear to listen for a moment during the day or simply experience a comforting look from them as you walk down the halls. 

  1. Create pauses in your work day.

Because grief can be such an energy sucker creating pauses throughout your day and in between meetings can give you some space to sit with emotions and recharge throughout your day.

  1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself outside of work.

When returning to work during a period of grieving it can be easy to get sucked into a vacuum of overworking and under caring for yourself. Be intentional about managing your hours at work and really allow yourself to be “off” as much as possible when you are not there. 

Written by: Celeste Calvert

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