Managing Grief and Work

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy and having to manage your grief and your job at the same time can be challenging.

It’s perfectly normal to not be mentally present at work after taking a couple of days off to grieve. Here are some suggestions to help you cope with the loss of a loved one when you return to work:

  1. Don’t assume that everyone is aware of your grief

You most likely informed your supervisor and human resources of your loved one’s death, but your team may be unaware of the personal matter. Communicate with your co-workers about your loss and grief if you feel comfortable doing so. Perhaps some of your co-workers are aware of your loss and wish to express their sympathies. Forgive your co-workers in advance for how they try to offer you support that you may not want during this difficult time. Set boundaries with your co-workers so they know what is acceptable or unacceptable to ask you during your grieving process.

  1. Schedule intentional breaks

While working, memories of your loved one may surface, making it difficult to focus on your job. Take advantage of all the available breaks to allow yourself some breathing room to grieve. Go to a quiet place at work, or if you work remotely, step outside for a walk during your break. You’ll appreciate the quiet and alone time to refocus.

  1. Remember and honor your loved one

You may be doing everything to avoid thinking about your loved one at work. Having photos of them displayed at your workplace may actually help in the grieving process. You can honor your loved ones by keeping your memories of them in plain sight rather than putting them out of memory and out of sight.

  1. Build your support system

You are not alone in dealing with your loss. Check with HR to see if your company has any employee assistance programs that provide support and structure during your grieving process. Lean on your co-workers, friends, and family for support during this trying time. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it in person, join a virtual grief support group.

  1. Give yourself time

Loss is a normal part of life. Allow yourself some grace during this difficult moment. Notify your manager if returning to your normal work routine takes longer than usual. Take advantage of any flexible work schedule options that are available. It is acceptable to express sorrow for a loved one. Keep in mind that the same grace you require to grieve may be required by someone else at work who may encounter the same situation.

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