No one can rush getting back to normal after the death of a beloved one. In fact, grief left behind after a devastating loss is one of life’s most difficult experiences to cope with. And returning to work while grieving is the most challenging experience.
You are sad, anxious, frightened, full of countless thoughts, and angry. But then you are required to return to work.
There are different ways to cope with grief and loss.
- Talk to Your Boss/Manager About it
Deciding to keep it in yourself and continue with your day to day activities at your workplace can feel like a good move to you while grieving, but sooner or later, strong feelings may overwhelm you.
It’s important to let your manager know about the situation you’re going through.
Choose whatever method to communicate with your manager concerning the situation (whether physically, over the phone, or send an email).
Let your manager know what has transpired and what help you need from him. Your manager will see how to support you in the best way possible.
- Let Other Coworkers Know You Are Grieving
Of course, some you are close with may have known that you lost your loved one but you shouldn’t assume that all of them know that after you return to work. Assuming your manager informed everyone in your department or area of work about your situation is a mistake you shouldn’t make.
In the past, people used to wear certain clothes to signal what happens to people around you but that’s a bygone.
Make sure your coworkers are informed of your situation and that you are in a state of grief.
These days technology has made things easier. You can either make a post on social media or ask your supervisor to inform other coworkers or your coworkers can inform other people you work with.
The good thing about letting your workmates know this is that it would be easier for them to know how to support or help you.
- Seek Support from Friends and Colleagues
Your manager can offer support at times of grieving but your friends and colleagues can do so as well. In fact, they can offer you the best support you need since they know you as they have worked with you for a long time.
Note that not all people can ask how you are. Some people aren’t good at responding to grief so just let them know that you aren’t feeling good at the moment. Telling them that you are not good at that moment will make them know that you need support.
Well, sometimes you may be overwhelmed by feelings of grief that you don’t want to discuss the loss with anyone, regardless of how close they are to you. If that’s you, you can just let them know that you just need to take some annual leave.
- Plan How to Overcome Emotions
No matter how strong you might be, don’t think that your grief will go away from you- it will stay with you for a while before it disappears. At some point, you will find yourself down in tears in the workplace regardless of how much strength and courage you try to gather.
This is the challenging and treacherous nature of grief after losing someone we love. That’s why it’s advisable to plan how to overcome emotion because little things can trigger thoughts and remind us of our beloved ones such as a song that your beloved used to listen to, a hairstyle or outfit similar to that of your departed one.
It’s not easy to forestall what might trigger your grief after returning to work and that’s why it’s important to plan how to handle such situations.
For instance, you could plan what to do in case you find yourself in tears. Also, think about what steps to take when you feel sad about the loss of your loved one when you are supposed to complete an important job assigned to you.
Note that it’s normal and natural to feel sad and even cry when you have come from losing someone you love, so don’t fight it but find ways to counter it.
- Focus and Organize
Look, you are required to concentrate (and this is especially important if you are working with machines) but grief can take your ability to concentrate away.
Grief can make you forget things easily. So you need to organize yourself by writing a To-Do List to avoid skipping some duties at work.
Make sure to include everything that needs to be accomplished without forgetting when you should go for lunch. Also, make sure you list all the deadlines and ask your coworker to check the correctness of your to-do list.
- Develop Resilience
You must have gone through trying moments at work and overwhelmed them. Although grief is a challenging moment, your resilience can help you overcome it as well.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book Option B talks about how psychologist Martin Seligman researched resiliently and overcame her husband’s death.
In the book, Sheryl describes Seligman’s three Ps of grief and emotional impediments which include:
Permanence- The belief that the impacts of your grief are long-lasting.
Personalization- The belief that you are to blame for your loss.
Pervasiveness- The belief that grief has no limits in all parts of your life.
Seligman states that none of these situations will last forever regardless of how strong they might be at the moment.
- Identity a Sanctuary
You may be overwhelmed with emotions or tears and because work is too much at that moment, you need a place to process the feeling- a private place away from your work.
Find a place you can retreat to. For instance, you could identify a stairwell on another floor or an empty office as your sanctuary. It could be in your car.
When in grief, don’t beat yourself up too much because things will get back to normal with time.
Also, understand that it’s okay to be human and it’s okay to break down or ask for support.