Can’t face work

My mum died 15th December, she had been poorly in hospital but we weren’t expecting the call telling us she had deteriorated and that intensive care wouldn’t be any benefit for her and they thought she would be for end of life care , she died 4 days later. I was never given any compassionate leave from work when I told them that my mum was on end of life care and expected to die soon and was told I would need to go off sick which I did . We had the funeral on 7th Jan and now I just feel so sad and down everyday and actually feel worse than I did before then. I’ve been off work for the last 6 weeks since she died , I had thought I will go back next week but the closer the time comes the more I’m dreading it, it’s making me so anxious and I just can’t face it. I’m a staff nurse in the hospital where my mum died (not on the same ward) and I just don’t want to be there. The thought of having to look after poorly patients or patients at the end of their lives is worrying me , I could be the nurse in charge on a shift and worry that I won’t be able to cope. I have 4 young kids so it’s stressful at home and I’m trying to get on with things for them but it’s so hard .
My husband doesn’t think I’m ready to go back and says I should get another 1 or 2 weeks off work but I worry what work and people think. I feel like people feel like I should be getting on with things now and I know that I won’t suddenly feel better in a couple of weeks but maybe just a couple more weeks will help me to be able to cope without bursting into tears or getting angry or losing my patience.
My brother went back to work this week after 5 weeks and everything I’ve read online talk about people going back to work 2 or 3 weeks later .
I feel so guilty about not being there when they are so busy at the minute but the thought of it fills me with anxiety.
Sorry to ramble on , just wondered if anyone else had this long off or do I just need to suck it up and get on with things?
Thank you xx

Hello milliemoo,

I am so sorry to hear of the very recent passing of your Mum. It sounds as though things are very tough at the moment. Everyone is different in their grief, and I am confident our other users who have experienced a similar loss, will post with words of support.

I’m glad that you’ve been able to share how you are feeling here, and I hope that you find the community a good source of support. Everyone here has experienced the loss of a loved one and will understand some of what you are going through.

If you feel you need some expert help, Sue Ryder offers an online bereavement counselling service. This is a free service and sessions are held via video chat so you can attend from home. There’s more information about this service here:

Another good place to get support is Cruse Bereavement. They offer a helpline, email support, and counselling and support groups through their local services: 0808 808 1677,,

Take care,
Online Community Team

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Sorry to hear about the recent death of your mum.

My mum died suddenly and unexpectedly, 19 months ago. I expected to collect her from a routine hospital appointment. Instead I received a phone call telling me she had suffered a massive bleed on the brain whilst she was chatting away to her consultant.

I got signed off work by my GP after 3 days of extreme distress and shock. I went back to my GP monthly and ended up having 4 months off work.

If I hadnt have been given this, I would never have returned. I am also a key worker and although I will never get over the loss of my fabulous mum, I am able to work as well as I did before. In fact, my job is my lifeline.

Get yourself to your GP and signed off work. Dont worry about what people will think.


I am so sorry for your loss, may I just say you have my utmost respect for what you do as a profession, taking care of the sick and unwell. You said ‘normal’ people get back to work after 2 to 3 weeks but your circumstances (probably a lot more emotional triggers and the unimaginable patience required) are quite different.

It took me 3 months to deal with the aftermath (funeral/moving/getting a bit more used to an ‘empty’ house) before I tried to start work again. But then i am not medical staff and probably face less occupational stress than you.

Is there a superior you can talk to about your worries and more time off? Communication is key…

Sending u some support xxx

Thank you everyone , I contacted my GP surgery to ask to extend my sick note but I’ve got to ring back on Monday as my current sicknote doesn’t finish until Sunday so they said if I ring on Monday they should be able to sort it for me so I’m hoping that they will extend it for another couple of weeks.
I’m hoping that this will give me time to to hopefully be able to cope with things better.

I’d just like to say sorry to everyone too for their loss .
This forum has been a great help xx

Good luck.

Going back to work before you are ready will just delay your recovery.


Hi, sorry for your loss, on going back to work after loss is an individual decision as we all cope differently with grief, there is no right or wrong amount of time, to be effective on your return especially in your line of work, whereby situations will inevitably cause flash backs to your mum, you need to ensure you take all the time out to grieve properly… they will cope without you and also when you do do go back ask for a phased return and light duties , your gp can advise this on a fit to return to work part of your certificate , sending my condolences x

Hello milliemoo3

I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

I lost my Mum on 8th December. Since October when she was diagnosed, I had been working flexibly thanks to my very understanding employers. When she passed away, I was off work until 18th January, so about six weeks, including the Christmas break. I started at work on 18th January but only for 4 hours a day. This week I have built up to 5 and each week I am building up an extra hour to 7 hours when I am full time again. I think my employer is a rarity: he has been extremely kind and patient and I haven’t felt pressurised at any point. However, I realise not everyone is that lucky.

You don’t sound as if you are ready to go back to work yet. Have you spoken to a doctor or any understanding colleagues? If you don’t tell them how you are feeling, they won’t necessarily know. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your grief or feel embarrassed about it. It’s unrealistic to expect people to snap back into normality after such a short space of time from such a huge loss.

Try and get the courage to be honest with your colleagues, surely they will understand that you can’t face dealing with end of life care.

I hope you find the strength to allow yourself the time you need.