Grieving and Working

The work world is structured, full of responsibilities and expectations. Little allowance may be made for the difficulties you face as you cope with your grief. Yet grief is a process, a roller coaster of experiences and reactions. When you do need to return to work, the following tips may be helpful:

Accept your grief.
You cannot turn it off when you go to work. Recognize that as you grieve, some days may be more difficult than others. When you experience a rough day you may not be able to accomplish all that you wished. Be gentle with yourself.

Be gentle with others.
People may not know what to say, or may not even be aware of your loss. If you feel comfortable, it can be helpful to share your grief with those who offer support. Co-workers and supervisors may need guidance as to the best ways that they can help.

Utilize the resources that work can offer.
Human Resources or Employee Assistance Programs may offer information, support, counseling, assistance, and referral. Local hospices or faith communities may offer grief support groups.

Take care of yourself.
Grief is hard work. Adequate sleep, good nutrition, and exercise build resistance to stress. Avoid alcohol or illegal drugs; they only mask the pain of grief. Consult a physician if you have difficulty sleeping or eating. A counselor may assist if the grief inhibits your ability to function on an ongoing basis. Use whatever has helped you cope with loss and stress in your past.

Developed from Journeys with Grief: A Collection of Articles about Love, Life and Loss, edited by Kenneth J. Doka, Ph.D., MDiv., copyright Hospice Foundation of America, 2012.