My Dad died from Covid. How do I return to Nursing?

Dear Watt92, thank you for your kind words. I started Bereavement Counselling (free through the Trust) last week and I also re-registered with a new GP and will speak to Occy Health tomorrow. I miss my Dad terribly and have waves of pain and loneliness and fear of the future and fear of losing other family members. It’s such a painful, strange time. I’m really trying to just let the feelings come and go with it… I wish you all the best in your planning to return to your course - it’s important work. Like you, I just feel swamped with the pressure and the enormity of returning to care for other people. It’s quite odd as many patients don’t always perceive Health Care Professionals as being “real people” with real lives, coping with loss and illness themselves. When my Mum died, I did return to nursing as I still had something left to give and I coped (just) but after my Dad’s traumatic death from Covid, I feel empty. I wish you all the very best with what lies ahead. Take care. Rachel x

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How are you finding the counselling? I went to counselling about a month after finding Dad, because the anxiety and panic attacks were so heavy on me but I found it was too soon. I’d just sit and cry the hour and hand over money for it: it didn’t feel right.
It is just awful, grief, but it is the price we pay for love. There is nothing anyone can say or offer that will help or remove the burden. It is something we just learn to carry and manage… I still ask myself how?? It really does shock you to the reality of life, and how quickly and cruel it can come to an end. Lots of questions will flood you - why them? Why me? Why did this have to happen? I knew it was coming after watching my poor Pops suffer with emphysema for 9 years. Although I’m glad he isn’t suffering anymore, I’m selfish in the fact that I still need him here. People use the term ‘letting them go’ and I just can’t/ don’t/ will never understand it. What does it look like?
I do hope you get the time you need to recover. Have time to grieve. You’re an extremely giving person to have went back to work so quick after losing your wonderful Mum. Can I ask, how old you are?

I think now more than ever is the time to ask ourselves what is really important to us in our lives? What will bring comfort? A little happiness? I don’t think working with the public is that for me anymore. I just wanted to help others, it seemed the most important thing. But now, after not receiving a lot of help myself, I ask why do I want to give myself to others? I’m now considering a career with animals, as they will always always make me happy. I implore you to look deep inside, and see what this looks like for you.

Best wishes to you and I hope you get the help and time you really deserve. X


Hello Watt92, thank you for you message. Having my 2nd counselling today - so it’s early days. I don’t know what “letting go” looks like either! Since 2013, I and my Husband have cared for and faced the deaths of all our parents - His from heart failure and cancer and mine from poor mental health and decline and now my Dad from Covid, frailty and dementia. It’s been a challenging few years with both of us working and raising children. My previous job was as a Chemotherapy Nurse in Oncology/Haematology - looking back, I don’t know how I got through that plus all the poorly parents we shared between us. My 20 year old daughter has also had to cope with the deaths of 2 friends so we have looked after her too. Honestly, going through all that and surviving the Bullying Culture of the NHS - bullying is rife in this system. I remember struggling at work during a week when my Mum was very unwell and at risk of being resectioned and my Mother in law living with cancer and admitted with septic symptoms, fighting to survive - and my Clinical Lead saying to me “we don’t need to know about all that” … so already you’re grieving the loss of someone as their life changes and yours with it. It’s massively painful and now Covid makes life very different as we lose the rituals of death and the comfort of family and friends. I lived with my Dad at the Care Home in his last week and was with him when he died. My heart breaks for those who had no contact with their relative - how does anyone come to terms with that and accept their new reality, let alone grieve? So many people will be fragile and vulnerable for a very long time - and then life will continue as “normal” for most as we the bereaved group adjust to a new normal. I’ll carry on with the counselling but I know I have to face these feelings on my own really - you know, the really choking despair and waves of sadness… You asked how old I am. I’m 55 was supposed to retire from Nursing at this age and then all the rules changed and now it’s 60 - but I don’t know if I can do it. I volunteer in a charity shop - Lovely Team, easy work, no death, no one fighting for their lives, no stress. I would recommend volunteering to anyone struggling and lonely. It’s a great way to ease your way back in and Systems are so grateful for any help. I reregistered with a new GP - who was lovely, normal and had a heart and I felt supported. I know I can’t care for patients until I’ve cared for myself and mourned my Dad. I understand how you feel about your Dad no longer suffering but you missing him terribly - I feel the same way. I think maybe we are in a similar situation regarding the work we do - as it’s so draining emotionally and you’re constantly giving. I don’t know whether to return to nursing and I’ve been a nurse for 28 years. It seems like such a waste to give up especially when we have 40 000 Nurse vacancies but I don’t know… Working with animals just sounds amazing. Really look into it when you feel more robust. Maybe we need to set ourselves free and self care? I hope you have a lovely day, live in the moment, enjoy the sunshine and the blue skies… Rachel x

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Hi Watt92, how are you? How are things? Just had my final counselling session. The NHS allows you 6 sessions so have registered with Cruse now. Still signed off work, still struggling to imagine myself nursing a patient with Covid. I feel wracked with guilt but I just can’t do it… How was Fathers’ Day for you? Hope you enjoyed lovely and happy memories of your Dad x Look after yourself. Rachel x

Like you Rachel I had sessions from NHS at first I just broke down my last one is next week I can actually talk about Mick with the counsellor now without struggling to speak. I have not returned to work yet . Take care x

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Hello Kim5, Lovely to hear from you. It’s so painful, isn’t it? I had my last NHS Counselling Session yesterday. It helped but I found the sessions over the phone unusual. I may be able to have more sessions but I think I will go to Cruse as I may be able to have face to face sessions in the future. My NHS Counsellor was good but focused a lot on burnout. I think I am burnt out - in the past 3 years, my mother in law died, my Mum died and now my Dad has died - so I need to focus on bereavement really. I am wracked with guilt about being away from work, that people will judge me but I know that I just can’t nurse anyone right now. The counsellor challenges me about this guilt but it’s something that we are so exposed to in the NHS - alongside the bullying. Even last week, whilst signed off, I went into work to Revalidate and all I could think of, was what the hell am I doing? as I’ll probably end up resigning soon. It’s so hard to be a nurse when you are bereaved, constantly giving and under pressure all the time. I have been thinking about you & wondering how you are & if you had returned to work. Look after yourself x Rachel x

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My re validation is May 21 I would not have been able to do it this year. I retired 3 years ago at 55 having done 36 years in hospitals got bored after year and joined NHSP on the bank I work for one of my old managers who set up respite units for special needs and poorly children so I only did 25 hrs a week when I return I will drop to 15 hrs re /tax man will have a field day because I get my husbands BT pension but like you say in your situation is going to be difficult you have had a lot of bereavement to deal with only when your ready. Take care xx

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@RCB Hello, how have you found your sessions?
I’ve been another mixed bag to be honest. Fathers Day was truly one of the worst days I had - I cried all day. My boyfriend drove me to the place we scattered Dad and I had a little moment. I’ve had so many signs he’s still with me lately so that’s been comforting. How did you find it?
I’m just missing him so much it makes my heart hurt and eyes well whenever I think about it. I’d love nothing more than just to go round for a cuppa. I’m still not back to work yet, and I’m not too sure what’s going on. I’m still furloughed so I’m lucky I still have money coming in!
Good to hear from you and thank you for asking.

Dear Watt92, Lovely to hear from you. I found Fathers’ Day really painful. I went to his grave and just wept, remembering the previous Fathers’ Day and taking him out for lunch and how well he was. I just feel like I miss my Dad more and more. He had a very comforting presence. My Mum had very severe poor mental health and my Dad always looked after me and protected me. No one ever loved me like he did and I find the loss of my childhood painful too. I’m still signed off from work, I’m a nurse, and I’m wracked with guilt about that too, Are you having Bereavement Counselling? I’ve just had 6 free sessions via work. The Counsellor was ok but mostly focused on burn out and that I have a choice to leave my job. I’ve been nursing for 29 years and have no skills to do anything else - and the thought of “starting a new career” feels me with dread. For me, bereavement feels like fear and has just escalated my anxiety. I have registered with Cruse, which I think will be more helpful. In the past 3 years, my mother in law died, then 5 weeks later my Mum died and now my Dad has died from Covid - and I worked as a nurse throughout and raised my daughters and now I feel physically and emotionally exhausted… Look after yourself, Watt92. Keep in touch xxx

Hi Kim5, Honestly, Revalidation did my head in. I 'm signed off bereaved and was getting tons of emails from the NMC and HR to revalidate. The NMC will extend by 12 weeks and I requested a further 12 weeks which they couldn’t action. Sometimes, I wonder what we are paying £120 a year for? So I just had to bite the bullet, go in and get it done. A colleague was lovely and said that she was sorry about my Dad - and I just couldn’t speak. I just felt awful. I’m 55 but I can’t retire until I’m 60 but thankfully, have some savings put by. I work 10 hr shifts which can stretch to 11.5 depending on the Unit and by then, I’m crawling home. We only get a 30 min break so if your days becomes 11.5 hours long, it’s pretty tough… I work with RNs 30 years younger than me, who are struggling. Nursing is hard when you work long hours, are a main carer for elderly relatives, bring up a family and then go through bereavement. I also know there are lots of people out there working long hours in very tough jobs too - and also bereaved. Thankfully, I am well supported by my new GP and OH and my Clinical Lead is normal, kind… It all takes time, Kim. Look after yourself too. Will be thinking of you. Good Luck as you drop your hours. I hope it all goes well xx

I let you know when I return and how it is you take care x

Please do, will be thinking of you…x