Going Back to Work After Losing a Loved One

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Tuesday, September 14, 2021

After the loss of a loved one, it can be a difficult process to return to the workplace. While work can help you get back to a routine, for many people getting back to “normal” can feel impossible. Adjusting to this next stage of life can be a difficult time, and returning to work so soon can often be jarring. This article will discuss some steps to help you navigate this transitional period.

Taking Time Off

The Employment Rights Act allows employees the right to take a “reasonable” amount of time off (usually unpaid) after the death of a loved one. However, it is usually up to the employer how much time off is given. This may not be enough time to cover more than the services and burial. Beyond funeral arrangements, there may be a wide array of reasons why you may need to take off from work after the loss of a loved one, beyond coping with grief and depression. Estate arrangements, especially those that go through probate litigation, can be tedious and time-consuming. Being upfront with your employer and working with your HR department can be important in ensuring that your time can be allocated properly. 
Grief can have significant physical and mental effects. Grief can potentially leave you feeling ill, which can cause you to use up sick days. Shock, anxiety, and depression from your loss are also possible. 

Your Colleagues and Your Grief

After the loss of a loved one, consider speaking to your employer or HR department about informing your colleagues. Colleagues can often offer a great deal of support, but they can also dredge up your grief down the line. Discuss with your employers or HR department how you would like your colleagues to proceed regarding your loss. This can be helpful if you want to keep your grief private, or if you do not want to talk about it. You may not want them to even mention the loss to your co-workers. Your decision is your own, and there is no right or wrong way to approach this. 

Trying To Stay Focused

It can seem almost impossible at times to stay focused at work after your loss. Work can act as a distraction, but it can also add to your stress. Consider using a personal planner to help you stay on task without being too overwhelming. If your work allows it, take regular, short breaks to help you stay focused and improve your productivity. Limiting stress is an important part of finding a path through your grief. 

Open Communication with Your Job

Keeping an open line of communication with your employer or HR department can be an important step to take during this time. It may not be comfortable to discuss your grief with them, but it can be important. If you are struggling with your grief, it is good to keep them informed. A good manager might help support you during this time by checking in with you or helping you stay on task.

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here
For almost 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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