Learn how to take action, including how to plan and coordinate your return to work with your manager, be transparent, set boundaries, ask for help, and allow others to support you.
- Despite how uniquely personal your experience of grief may be, know that as you contemplate your return to work, it's unlikely that your workplace will be able to respond to your unique needs. It's actually uncommon for many places of work to have a comprehensive plan for bereavement leave. Your first step then may be to simply familiarize yourself with company policies for bereavement. Next, be aware of and realistic about what you feel capable of doing, especially relative to your ability to concentrate and to be productive, so that you can communicate your needs as transparently as possible with your manager or your supervisor. The more honest that you can be before and after you return to work, the smoother your transition can be. Being able to set boundaries is important. Because it's possible that at some later date, you will want to discuss both the capabilities and the limits of your own productivity. Now, feelings don't pay attention to location or time. So it's quite possible that memories and waves of grief or tearfulness will occur in the workplace as well. Deep grief surfaces spontaneously and unexpectedly. So, allow yourself the grace to gently step away if need be. And let those waves of grief, just kind of move right through you. And if there's someone with whom you feel close and with whom you can talk, consider reaching out to have that conversation, so that you can feel more centered and more balanced once again. Also know that colleagues and coworkers will be curious about how you're doing, they're likely to ask about you and also about what happened depending on the nature of the death. So you may want to develop a statement that you feel comfortable telling most people, which may also include telling them that you're actually not ready to talk about any of the details. Setting boundaries with regard to what you say or what you don't say, may also be helpful to you as you return to work. Be aware that other colleagues may be reluctant to ask or to say anything to you about your recent loss. Oftentimes, that occurs because they don't want to cause you more pain. Or because they just aren't sure what to say to you at this time. Your friends and your coworkers may also want to know if they can do something for you. It's a very, very natural response. We are social beings who like to give and also who need to receive. So know that their asking and you're receiving of that help is actually very important. Being in need and asking for help, and also receiving help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a sign of your humaneness. You might respond by telling them that they can listen, when you need to talk. Or if you need something more like dinner or an errand to be run, please ask and then receive. More than anything, understand this is a very tender and vulnerable time. And that it is okay for your grief to surface in different settings. And that it's also okay for you to be confused. And, that it's okay to need different arrangements. And that it's also okay for you to ask for help, and receive that help. And to receive that help with the same love and compassion that you would show someone else going through something quite similar to you.
- Understanding difficult feelings
- Defining grief
- Dealing with loss and change
- Supporting grieving colleagues
- Returning to work