Loss and going back to work

I moved in with my parents last year to help care for my Mum who had a terminal cancer diagnosis. Although we knew she wasn’t going to get better for some time, it was still a great shock when she died at home very suddenly a few months ago due to complications.

I am still living with my Dad and struggling to balance his grief with my own. I also work in mental health and was recently required to return to work. I wish I could have had some extra time, as I just feel physically exhausted by the time I get to the weekend. My Dad has been struggling and I feel responsible for supporting him, as restrictions make it harder for him to get out or for relatives to come. So I feel that my whole day is spent in the minds of others with very little time or space for my own grief.

I know that COVID made it much harder with a very sparse funeral and no wake, but I do get some solace in the fact that I was with Mum when she died, even though the process was very traumatic. It’s hard to go in to the room she died, as it was full of paramedics and chaotic scenes and my family home now seems tainted by that in some way. I have different ways of coping to my family and my Mum was the most similar person to me and the main person I confided in. I also feel a part of my Dad died that day and our relationship has changed. We feel more distant and it’s another loss.

I only have fixed employment until next year so part of me is hanging on for the light at the end of the tunnel. I try to speak about it, but my closest friends both lost parents in the past 6 months and I feel like I am burdening them. I’m worried that if I stopped work after returning that I would be letting patients down at a time they need support too. I just feel a bit trapped and needed to share this. I know things will change, but it also feels like such a long way away and I also know that my life will never be the same. I’m just not sure where to even begin and as I work in this field people expect I can fix myself somehow or that I have to be the glue that holds my family together. If I did take time off now I would only be at home and couldn’t work towards my own place.

Sorry to offload so much but I just needed to put it out there. I cry most nights as it’s the only time I get space to be in my own head and I maybe need to think of ways to stay healthy and active in spite of COVID? Any advice would be gratefully received

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Hi MG79, you are going through a horrible time, I’m so sorry for the sudden loss of your Mum, losing your Mum is devastating for most people, but your circumstances are making everything worse, I lost my Mum very suddenly and like you worked as a nurse, I went back to work quite quickly as I thought it was the right thing to do, the first 6 months I felt I was in the middle of a dense fog, I also worried constantly about my Dad, I did have a family to support me, but in the end I had to get through it myself, and you will too, you must think of your own mental health, as health care professionals we tend to think we are indispensable and battle on regardless, it sounds to me as if you need some time off, and it might be worth talking to your GP, it is entirely normal to feel as you do, it’s a process we have to go through and you will get through it, be kind to yourself , sending love and hugs, Jude x

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Thank you both for your messages, it’s very much appreciated. I think I just needed to clarify that outside of my own head. Since writing this I have had a long chat with my boss and gone on reduced hours to be reviewed in the New Year. Thank you for giving me the mental space to realise that is safest and best for me and for those I support in my own job. It feels as if a weight has lifted a little and I have space to breathe x