Upon the death of a loved one, the process of grieving and healing takes time, it is not something that you wake up one morning and whisk away. The pain this brings along is so overwhelming that sometimes even taking care of your own self will be an issue, what of the job then?
For most employers, the time given off to mourn the death of a loved one is limited. They require you to be back and commence working in no time at all when you feel you are not yet ready for it.
How do you start working immediately after the funeral of a loved one or their memorial service for that matter, and you are still engulfed in emotions?
Follow the guidelines below.
Not all your colleagues at the workplace know you are grieving-
Do not make the mistake of assuming that everyone at the workplace knows what you have been through much as there will be nothing to show it too. That you lost a dear one may not be communicated to all your colleagues, and those who do not know may not be sensitive to your feelings once in a while, so take no offense.
Sometimes even those who know may not know what to say or how to approach you. They might, therefore, keep a distance away, only addressing you when compelled to. It is okay, as the death of someone, close to us or not, often makes us uncomfortable, so much that we may lack the words to say to make somebody feel any better.
Make it your duty, therefore, once you return to work, to let everyone know that you experienced the loss of a loved one, that way they will prepare themselves on how to relate with you at the workplace. You can do this through a number of ways,
• Circulating the news via social media like Linkedin, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
• Making calls
• Organizing to meet them in person so that you can break the news.
• Sending emails, texts, letters or cards
• Telling your immediate superior or a colleague to do the announcement on your behalf.
As you tell them, make it a point to let your colleagues know whether or not they can talk about anything regarding the deceased. Owing to the painful nature of death, they will surely understand and respect your decisions.
Handling your emotions at the workplace.
Just because you have resumed working does not mean that you will be immune to emotions. Sometimes, you might get overwhelmed by emotions, and feel the need to probably cry. What then will you do? Indulging in work keeps you preoccupied too in a way and is a good distractor in a way, but sometimes our feelings overpower it.
The triggers can be brought about perhaps by the dress a colleague is wearing, sometimes you could hear a song they loved, or hear somebody mention a movie they liked. Sometimes you used to hang out of Fridays after work, and you still have to be at work on Fridays. Planning how to handle emotions is therefore important.
Where you feel overwhelmed, you can excuse yourself and request to be given a short break of a few minutes to ease yourself, or perhaps request for leave for a couple of days. Some people are able to hold their emotions and wait for things like lunch breaks to have time for themselves.
You can do certain things like planning to work from the house, of course, if your employer agrees to it. Grieving is not a one-day thing, so it is necessary to always plan how you will go about your emotions as you resume working.
Learning to forgive-
It is common practice for companies not to allow you grieve as you would desire. This might get you worked up, why would some people not understand your pain and let you grieve for the period you desired? Do not direct the anger that this brings towards your coworkers. They too are incapacitated to give you more time even if they wish to.
And so with your return, they will want to support you, always passing by your desk to see how you are doing or keeping off to let you be out of not knowing the appropriate things to tell you. This is normal to learn to let go before you even go back into the office.
Being given some distance might be common because people don’t often know how to comfort the bereaved and usually fear to trigger off your emotions by saying unpleasant things on the contrary to their expectations.
But with time, both of you will get back to your normal relationship in the workplace as well. Time is a healer in all situations.
You too might get the feeling that you ought to accord the deceased more time to mourn them in respect of your relationship with them, and so this immediate returning to work is sought of disrespectful.
The leaves given by the employers are never really enough to mourn the death of a loved one if anything it takes time to learn how to cope with their absence. And most of the time, people are required to get back to work immediately after burial.
You will experience some difficulties like the inability to concentrate, not being able to meet your targets, getting overwhelmed, questioning the suitability of your job, daydreaming, lots of inaccuracies or errors, and probably being highly irritable and impatient.
These are quite normal so you should not be hard on yourself. These are just the effects of grieving which will somehow fade away, so don’t make any major decisions as to quit your job at this point.
It is therefore still important that you always communicate with your supervisors so that they know what you are going through to avoid being misjudged.
Sometimes just do what you are able to do at a particular time, as you also need to take care of yourself, expressing your emotions as they come, while allowing your healing to take its natural course.