Returning to work

My dad died suddenly two weeks ago of a heart attack. Myself and my sister were with him when he stopped breathing and i gave CPR. I am a nurse and this was my first cardiac arrest. I am returning to work soon but am really worried about it. My dads death still hasn’t really sunk in and i do feel like i am trying not to deal with his death and grieve as im not ready to lose my dad. i am having trouble sleeping as i feel his death was very traumatic, the memories of giving him CPR and seeing the paramedics trying to resuscitate him is still very raw but i keep telling myself i’m a nurse and shouldn’t be fazed by this. The patients i usually see are acutely unwell and it can be very stressful. Usually I love my job but i really dreading going back. I don’t know how i will feel with the death of a patient or if a patient has a cardiac arrest. I did feel i should return to work as i was feeling okay but i think i was still in shock and just felt numb.


I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad, @SRN. I’m just giving this thread a little bump for you so people who’ve logged on this morning can see it. Returning to work is a subject that has come up quite a bit with members so hopefully someone will have some thoughts to share. You may also find this support page from Cruse helpful to read: Returning to work after a bereavement - Cruse Bereavement Support

Take care,

@SRN from reading your post I think you are probably still in shock. I lost my dad in December 2022 unexpectedly and then lost my partner unexpectedly 7 weeks later this January. I had only just returned to work from losing my dad on the day my partner died. I am also a nurse and I think because of what we have had to deal with in work we feel we should be able to cope with anything in our own lives. We don’t. Allow yourself time to grieve and process what has happened. performing CPR is always traumatic let alone on someone close to you. Speak to your manager they should be able to refer you to occupational health to assess if you’re ready to go back to work. I’m still off work due to all that has happened.
As my partner told me when my dad died “it’s ok not to be ok” he was right. X

@SRN so sorry for your loss. I also lost my mum suddenly at the end of December it was a heart attack no sign and she was fine. I found her at home when I didn’t get any reply when I called her. I went back to work just over 2 weeks after her funeral however I think I went back too soon. I have had meltdowns just crying all the time and once I start can’t stop. Doc thinks may be trauma with finding her and still having the image in my head. Your situation is worse as you gave CPR on your dad and the trauma from that alone can’t be good. Take the time you need I think we think we are ok but then it hits us. You also have the reminder as its part of your job.

Similarly work in NHS. Utilise all the support packages available and access to bereavement counselling. I think it’s important to recognise signs of when you’re feeling upset or overwhelmed, then when to tell someone at work if you’re either wanting to talk. Or if you’re not coping in anyway. Remembering it’s better to raise difficulties earlier rather than later if you can. The uncertainty is going to be there until you start work and then you might find you’ve gone into autopilot mode for work until it hits you again at home. Maybe think on ways to best prepare yourself beforehand for a busy pressured work environment. Make a list of worries if this helps compartmentalise. As you would care plan a patient, care plan yourself in order to prepare somewhat? Hope it gets easier for you

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Hi, I didn’t want to start a new thread when I know there are many posts on here.
I lost my dad suddenly 5 weeks tomorrow and I am due to go back to work for just mornings. I really don’t want to go. I think I will probably hold it together and I am working from home but I don’t want to have to be fine and act normal. I feel that I have it better than most and my sister as a teacher went back after 1 week.
I am a social worker and just dread having to deal with other people’s problems. I don’t know though, if I am just delaying the inevitable and i should just do it? I know there’s no one size fits all but am I just suppressing my shock and sadness or would it actually be good for me to go back?

Hi @Sare

So sorry for your loss. It’s natural to compare. So, if it helps, when I was in the same position I had just over 3 months off sick, followed by a 12-week phased return. Prior to that, I was barely ever off work, and always for less than a week.

We’re all different, but I couldn’t have gone back any sooner. My first full week back was last week.

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Thank you, yes i am similar. In 6 years i think i have had 2 days off.
Others who have lost parents took time off but i have that awful feeling the expectation is for me to be strong and just go back sooner rather than later. I shouldn’t care what people think but that makes me feel better you didn’t rush back.
I think people expect you to be sad for a set amount of time, turn the sadness off and get back to life.
Good luck with your return xx

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Thank you @Sare

From one thread on this forum I saw that people average around 3 months but this varied from much less, up to 9 months and beyond. Grief has physical implications. It made me unable to do my job. My immunity was compromised and I got a viral chest infection. So, it’s definitely an illness, which warrants time off work.