Struggling massively and work don’t understand.

My grandparents brought me up from a baby after my mum committed suicide. We had a crazy strong bond and there was nothing we wouldn’t do for each other. As the got older, my grandpa developed vascular dementia and I helped my nan care for him and did as much as I could to keep them together for as long as possible until Social Services deemed otherwise. When he eventually died, we were bereft, but none more so than my Nan as he died 2 days before their 70th wedding anniversary. She ended up with bereavement induced psychosis and we cared for her until she collapsed and ended up in hospital. She begged me to take her home with me and I promised I would as soon as the Social Services assessments were done. On the day she was discharged from the ward medically fit and went to the home for assessment she was taken to A&E that night and I was told there was nothing more they could do for her and according to their notes there was no discharge notes to nursing home. That was on 18th December and on 30th December I was called and told it was imminent. I was physically sick and made my way there where I stayed for 24 hours until she took her final breath. I was distraught at leaving her, I couldn’t bear it. I solely arranged her funeral and it was the worst day. She was supposed to be coming back with me to live, instead I was given her box of ashes. Life feels so empty, my girls are struggling and I have no energy to support them which I feel bad for. Work has called me in for a meeting as my GP put stress on my note and I feel everyone is at me. I actualy. can’t envisage life without them, each day has been so ridiculously hard to get through and I feel no one understands; because they are my grandparents I should be over it, but in reality they were my parents. I have a meeting with my supervisor Friday and I’ve already said I don’t want to discuss it as it’s to painful, but they’ve called me in regardless. I am at the lowest ever. I am desperately trying to move on for the sake of my family, but my boss has told me the longer I stay away from work the harder it is to come back; I have no problems with going back eventually as I love my job, but being in a small community where people know me , I don’t want to be crying each time I’m serving someone. I will get stronger and so far I am now able to talk, but not able to get rid of clothes. Am I doing this all wrong and need to get a grip coz I feel like work is expecting me to just get on with it😞

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Employees will always want you to get on with it. From their perspective, they expect you to do the duties you were hired to do, but you won’t be able to effectively do your job in such a state. You need some time to piece yourself back together enough to carry on with daily life. I suggest you inform your boss during the meeting of who your grandparents were to you, your actual parents. Ask about their bereavement policy, and see if you can take take your bereavement, sick days, and vacation days together to give you more time to get a handle on what’s happened to you. If they have no more time off to offer you, see if they’ll agree to part-time hours for a period of time to help you get back on track. No one has the right to tell you how you should feel about your loss. Your grandparents stepped up in your life at such a critical time, and it sounds like you cherished and loved them dearly for it. You will eventually find the strength to carry on.

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Hi @LittleJoe1

Your employer has legal duties to ensure that they engage with you and around sick pay. The discussion is likely to be more about finding out how you are and planning the next steps without pressure. I manage people and have had to so this myself. If someone is likely to be off a while I can get a temp in. My boss had to do this with me as I lost both parents in 3 months (dad just 3 weeks ago).

You don’t have to disclose all the ins and outs of everything. Stick to facts that you are grieving, your were close (its not for work to determine who is important), and that work feels overwhelming right now. There could be options to phase back, put you on light duties, or move you into the back office - ask them how they can support you (you don’t have to have all the answers). Ask them what is possible. I would also explain what it feels like. E.g for me I’m not sleeping so I’m tired and have brain fog so need more time to do things, i don’t have the energy for long meetings so have a lighter diary, I need regular breaks and a moment if i break down.

My boss was greatful I described what it means to live with my grief as they had not really experianced it. I’m learning every day.

Has your doctor signed you off? This is the main thing you need to do if you need more time. Maybe they can give an indication and some advice.

I’ve gone back after 2 weeks. This isn’t right for everyone and was my choice. I’ve found it helpful as I would develop ‘the fear’ otherwise and be more anxious going back. It took me years to find my confidence and I could feel it slipping away. It was the right choice as I needed a distraction but it is really hard. I told work colleagues not to mention it unless I did otherwise I breakdown. And told them not to tell everyone as I didn’t want ‘the sad eyes’ in every conversation.

Hopefully something in here helps. Be kind to yourself and ask work to be kind as well. Take care. X

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Yes I absolutely adored them and I know I will move through this, but like you say I need to do it at my own pace.

Thank you for your advice and I will definitely use some of that. Yes I would rather just go back and not have everyone mentioning it. So sorry to hear you have gone through all of that. What you are saying makes sense and I think I’m probably being very sensitive and overthinking things at the moment as well. I worry because I have seen others go straight back quite soon after a loss and think others will be thinking badly of me taking so long. I’ve had a lot bereavements, but this one has really knocked me. Grateful for your words.

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Grief is a personal journey. Feeling afraid and worried is all part of it. After mum died in Nov 23 I was so scared to go back. I told my boss this on the sunday night and she reassured me. Someone called me that morning and i just sobbed through the call. But I made it through the week and realised I coukd do it. I was tired though and needed breaks.

The worse bit was that over 150 people had been told as some silly person sent a card to my whole directorate. So people who I didn’t really know were asking me about it and I was getting texts out of the blue. I had no control during mum’s treatment (another story about broken NHS services) and this was another example of not even being able to contain who knew. I was really upset.

Dad died 3 weeks ago. I told my boss not to tell everyone abd keep it quiet. This has made it much easier to return.

People kept saying ‘be kind to yourself’. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. But for me not working extra hours, saying no, walking away, telling my boss it was a bad day. I had a terrible day where I didn’t think I could get on the train. Asking husband to drop me off helped.

Go back when it’s right for you. You employer has a right to guage how long you need but not to demand you back. Maybe a phased return is right for you.

Ping me a message if you want to chat this through as I’ve seen both sides. Good luck.

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