Returning to work after sudden loss

Hi everyone,

I lost my lovely Dad 5 weeks ago in a very traumatic way. He was very fit and healthy but he was out walking and a car crashed into him and he died from his injuries in intensive care. I really miss him and I’m struggling with the trauma and flashbacks.

I’ve been off work now for nearly 6 weeks and my work have been fantastic and very understanding. My sick line is due to run out in a few days and my dr said they would extend it for me without any issues. I can take up to 3 months off paid sick leave and I just don’t feel ready to go back yet as I’m feeling very anxious, however I’m also concerned it will be harder for me to go back if I take another few weeks off. I don’t intend to take 3 months off but I was going to take another few weeks, as I still find myself walking around in a daze and crying unexpectedly. How do you know when it’s the right time to go back? I’m probably overthinking it but I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing.


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Hi Heather,

Very sorry to hear of the loss of your father so suddenly. Having lost my partner so suddenly 7 weeks ago, I do understand to an extent how you are feeling anxious.

My partner was likewise fit and healthy, and was stood in front on my one moment laughing and joking and went into cardiac arrest and died of a major heart attack the next. He was only 47, and we’d been together 19 years.

I have likewise been off work and the thought of returning fills me with dread. Similar to you my emotions are like a rollercoaster and I’ll be “OK” whatever the means in this new world one minute and crying my eyes out the next.

Work have been very good to me and I actually went to see them earlier today, and am going to attempt a phased return from next week. I’ll start by doing a couple of half days and then over the coming weeks slowly build it up with the view to be full time again by start of March. My doctor has also said they will continue to sign me off, but this gentle reintroduction to work and building it up slowly over the next 7/8 weeks may help so much. If it doesn’t then at least I’ve tried it.

Is a phased return something you could consider with your job?

My thoughts and best wishes to you.

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@Heather_28 you’ve suffered a devastating loss so give yourself time to feel more in control. I completely understand the worry that it’ll be harder for you to return if you are away for longer, but this time is essential for your wellbeing. Consider asking for a phased return when you are ready. I work part-time as a teacher and had five weeks off after the sudden death of my Mum. It was fortunate that I am part-time as I know that I would not have coped with full time hours plus my grief. There were definitely difficult days for me at work but ultimately being in my job has also provided an element of distraction and structure to my life as I try to adapt. Best wishes xx