On sick leave

Hello. I’m new to this, so it’s my first post. My sister died recently suddenly and unexpectedly. She was 55. I’m 54 and we were very close. We only lost our dad 8 months ago, and my mum is in a care home with dementia. I had 5 days bereavement leave from work, but just couldn’t face going back to work so my doctor gave me a two week sick note. After this I spoke to the doctor and am currently in my first week of another 2 week sick leave. I plan to go back to work after this. I am devastated at losing her. She was a huge part of my life. I’m worried about work although they have been supportive so far. I need to work, bills to pay etc. I live alone. I’m just wondering how long other people have had before returning to work? I don’t usually take time off but I feel so anxious. I also feel guilty about not going to work. I’m a bit of a mess. Any advice would be appreciated. I’ve lined up some bereavement counselling. Thank you.

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Dear Pipin1,

Sorry to hear you have had two bereavements so soon after each other and that your mum has dementia. You must miss your dad and your sister very much. Doy you have any other close family members or a good friend you can turn to for support?
It is good that your work gave you compassionate leave, and that you have signed up for counseling. It sounds like your GP is very supportive too.
Only you can decide when you feel ready to be back at work. From the many posts I have read on this site over the last 2 years, the time people take off varies from very little to many months. There is no right or wrong and decisions will depend on many factors such as people’s financial situation or the nature of their work.
For some people, going back to work helped them because it took their minds off their loss. Some people were able to have a phased return to work, to see how they got on.
Personally, I did not take enough time off after my dad died, but when my mum died I used a combination of annuel leave, compassionate leave and sick leave before going back.
I don’t think you should feel guilty about taking time off, you are doing it for a good reason and I hope your employer will understand that and not put pressure on you to come back to work.

Thank you for your message. I think going back to work will be hard, but as you say will help me to recover. I enjoy my job and work with some lovely people. The loss is still so painful, but I’ll take it one day at a time. X

Hi Pippin1, I am currently 5 weeks into my loss. I am currently still on compationate leave. My manager has told me to take as long as I need. The way I am feeling right now is that I will never be ready to return. I keep thinking that I should start working again, but with little or no sleep I can’t face it. I also have our wedding anniversary coming up in a weeks time so I am feeling pretty low right now. N was my life. I have also lined up some bereavement counselling, but I have been warned it could be up to 5 months before this happens. I spoke to a counsellor through my work and they are organising someone for me sooner than this.

Hi Valerie T. I’m so sorry for your loss. We are both in the very early days. I spoke to a counsellor today and she said 'remember to be kind to yourself '. I’m glad that your manager sounds understanding and that you’re not under pressure to return to work. Take care. Xx

Hi Pippin, 7 month waiting list for the counsellor!
On the plus side, my manager is fully supportive, her partner lost her mother late last year, so understands the grief I am going through. I spoke to her earlier today and her kindness and understanding came across so well. I am now staying with family for the next week so I am not alone for our anniversary on Monday.
Take care of yourself too xx