Working while Grieving: 5 Coping Strategies

Russ Krengel Caregivers

When you lose a loved one, it can feel like the world has shifted on its axis. You may find it difficult to contemplate returning to your daily routine, including going back to work.

If your world has been disrupted by grief, you shouldn’t expect to be able to fall back into your work groove right away. The grieving process can be long and difficult, and you’ll need to be patient with yourself. According to Dr. Shatavia Alexander Thomas, grief can be like breathing in that it’s natural and you need to go through it or you’ll do yourself harm.

Grief is natural and necessary, so even as you ease back into your professional life, don’t try to suppress it or ignore it. You can resume your work schedule while making time for yourself to go through the grieving process. Read on to learn about how to get back to work while you’re grieving.

The Challenges of Getting Back to Work after Loss

Even if you were lucky enough to get time off after the passing of your loved one, you eventually must return to work. That doesn’t mean everything has to return to normal, though. In fact, you may discover quite a few challenges confronting you as you try to get back to your routine.

Possible challenges could include:

  • Overwhelming Emotions: Grief may manifest in unpredictable and overwhelming feelings of sadness or anger.
  • Lack of Self-care: Grieving can cause you to neglect your well-being and not take care of your sleeping or personal care habits.
  • Withdrawal from Others: You may not want to engage in socializing with casual friends and coworkers after experiencing loss.  

If you have experienced these and other effects of the grieving process, the idea of returning to a “normal” schedule might sound daunting. Below are some techniques you might employ – along with the input of a grief counselor – to get back into the professional groove.

5 Strategies for Coping with Grief at Work

When you return to work, you’ll need some strategies for coping with your grief, so it doesn’t disrupt your work environment. Whether you work in an office or work from home, you’ll want to maintain your professionalism with coworkers.

Make room for your grief in your everyday schedule. This doesn’t literally mean penciling it into your calendar but dedicating even a half hour of your day to experiencing your grief can make a difference.

Suppressing grief or trying to ignore it might backfire if your feelings come out in unpleasant ways during the workday. Setting aside time specifically for grieving will help balance you.

Be sure your bosses and supervisors are aware of what you’re going through. You’ll want your direct supervisors to know the basic facts about what’s happened and why you might be off your “A” game and need some time to get yourself back together.

Professionally, this is good practice even if you’re not in the habit of sharing any personal information with your boss. Maintaining open lines of communication is even more important when you’re feeling emotionally compromised.

Even if you take the time to schedule your grieving into your daily routine, you may have days when grief hits you unexpectedly. You may or may not know what triggered it, but you’ll suddenly need to step away.

If you experience this, it’s okay to remove yourself for a moment to sit down and breathe until you feel ready to return.

As you resume your daily work routine, you may notice places where you could improve it. Perhaps you’re working too many hours and not giving yourself time to relax. Maybe you’re eating at your desk and not making enough room in your schedule for sleep.

Consciously make the decision to incorporate more self-care in your routine and you may find the places where you were neglecting yourself.

Your support system can include more than just your friends, family, and of course, your grief counselor. It’s important to find a place to find positive interactions with people who can understand what you’re going through, especially as you’re trying to resume your work schedule.

One possible place to find this kind of interaction is via social media platforms. You can find support groups on Facebook or Reddit to chat with others who have experienced loss. These groups could be a valuable resource to you when you need support during the workday.

Need Help Coping with Grief at Work? Let Kindful Hospice Help

If you think you might need more coping strategies for handling your grief in a professional setting, contact Kindful Hospice. Our counselors and chaplains are prepared to help you deal with the loss of your loved one by helping you implement coping techniques specifically useful to you.