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How to Avoid Grief Affecting Your Work


Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Apr 11, 2016

Avoid Grief Affecting Your Work

When people talk about grieving, many people simply say that the pain doesn’t go away, you just learn to live with it. That is to say that you’re never going to be completely over losing someone you loved, but you will grow stronger and learn how to deal with those feelings of loss over time. But chances are that if you have to go back to work like most of us do, you are probably only allotted a few days of bereavement leave plus any other time off you may have. Long story short: you’ll learn how to deal with your grief over time, but things are likely to still be pretty raw when it’s time to head back to work. Here are a few things you can try to keep your grief from affecting you too much at work.

Write to your supervisor and co-workers before heading back to work. Depending upon the kind of relationships you have with people at work, you might find it helpful to write a note to everyone a day or two before you return. You could start off by thanking people for their kind words and/or flowers. Then you might gently want to set the tone for your return to work. For instance, if you want to avoid conversations about your lost loved one, you might say something like “this has been really hard for me, and I really want to focus on work when I return, but thank you for your condolences outside of work.” (This might even be helpful for your coworkers, too.) The trick is to gently explain your needs without sounding like you’re dictating rules to everyone.

View work as a distraction. There’s nothing wrong with some distractions during the grieving process. As long as you’re dealing with your feelings outside of work, distracting yourself with what you need to get done at work during the day is one way to ease your way back into your daily routine. (Exercise is another great distraction for a short break from your thoughts.)

Ease back into your work week. If you can afford to do it, gently transition yourself back into the working week. You might want to start off with a half-day your first day back, or take a Friday off to shorten the week. Knowing that you have these breaks planned out might alleviate some of the stress about returning to a regular 40-hour work week.

Take walks on your breaks from work. If your office or workplace is near a walking trail or if you work in the city, take a quick stroll on your work breaks and/or lunch break. Besides the benefits of the midday exercise, walking can be a great way to gather your thoughts and reenergize for the rest of the day. Even better, find a walking partner or group to walk with you during your breaks.

Talk to a grief counselor. If you’re having trouble getting back into your work routine, talk to an expert. While grieving is normal, slipping into depression is something different. But there are plenty of compassionate experts out there who are dedicated to helping you find your way through.