Returning to Work after suffering a Bereavement
Returning to work after the death of a family member can seem to be a difficult proposition. However, re-establishing a normal routine can be of great help in getting through this period. Here are some thoughts to help you get back to your job.
How much time off work should I take?
Although legally, employers are not bound to give a worker time off after a bereavement, most companies do. This compassionate leave usually only consists of a few days to make the funeral arrangements. Many people choose to take extra unpaid days off or holidays. There is no fixed time to get over a bereavement. Every person deals with death in a different way. The more time you take off, the harder returning to work is likely to be.
Before returning to work
Get in touch with your boss or supervisor. They will probably already know the reason for your absence, so you should advise them if you wish your co-workers to know. Getting someone else to tell your workmates of your bereavement can be a good idea. It can alleviate you of the inevitable questions which they will innocently ask about your absence. People are more likely to be considerate if they are informed.
Take things calmly at first
Don't try and leap back into your workload. Grieving can cause problems with focusing on a task and concentration. Also, don't expect to immediately be able to do your best work. Ask a workmate or your supervisor to check your work for the first few days. Making priority lists is a good way to start getting back into your routine without feeling overstressed.
Plan a quiet escape space
It is likely that at some point grief will overcome you and will want to escape to a quiet space alone. Some workplaces provide such spaces or ask your boss where would be available for you to take a quiet few minutes. Try to divide up your day with regular breaks. This can help to prevent grief whelming up and becoming uncontrollable. Don't be afraid to cry and express your grief, it is an important part of the healing process.
Where to get help for returning to work
If you feel that your employer is not doing enough to help your return to work, you may want to suggest that he checks out the Compassionate Employers site. Set up by the National Council for Palliative Care, employers can learn how to offer better support for bereaved people returning to the workplace.