Trying to returning to work

Hello. I just wondered if I’m not alone in my struggles in returning to work.

My wife lost her cancer battle 5 months ago, at the young age of 47. Of course it goes without saying how devastated and heartbroken I still am each and every day.

I had 4 months off work on sick leave, although a month of that was going through the trauma of providing end of life care. I’ve been lucky in the respect that my employer provides paid sick leave and there has been no pressure for me to return to work.

I have returned to work now, but I’m finding it very very difficult to make the transition back to working life. I can’t focus, I can’t concentrate, I can’t remember what I’m supposed to being a lot of the time. I have very little in the way of enthusiam or interest in the work I’m doing. All the people I work with are lovely, but at the same time find myself a lot of the time being very anitsocial, often going out my way to avoid people and trying to interact as little as possible. I’m just desperate to get the day done and get out of there.

Every day is a struggle, I feel completely lost. Completely left behind. Whilst at work I almost feel like I’m in a parrelal universe, I’m watching everything going on around me but I’m not a part of it. It started out being frustrating that I could engage with work, but now it’s becoming really quite stressful that I just can’t connect with it in any way, shape or form.

It’s not been helped by the fact that this week the grief has hit me like a ton of bricks again.

Is this normal? Have others struggled to return to working life? Does it get easier?


Hello @REP,

I’m so sorry for the loss of your wife - that is devastating.

We have written an article on going back to work after loss. I hope reading it can reassure you that how you are feeling right now is normal, and that you are not alone in finding it so difficult.

Hopefully someone will be along to share their experiences, but I just wanted to share this link with you.

Take care,

I lost my husband in May. It was a sudden unexpected death. We were married 40 years. I have not been ready to return to work yet. Work are being good but i feel that i would not be able to do my job just yet. I am hoping to get Christmas out of the way first then go back in January. I am still dreading it but hoping it goes ok.

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Thank you for that link, that is really useful to read

@Hazell I hope it goes ok for you. I know some people benefit from the return to work and routine, but I certainly needed the time to process. In hindsight I wish I had taken longer off before returning to work. I have the luxury of working for a company that provides good support in terms of paid sick leave, and I should have used more of it. I certainly wouldn’t rush back, take as long as you need.


@REP after a huge loss, a return to work is at best a distraction and a way to pass time… Everything you’ve said resonates with me. I returned to work five weeks after the sudden death of my Mum. My heart wasn’t really in it though but I did it because it felt like it was expected. To be honest, even on my non working days I feel a lack of motivation and zest for life, even now nine months on. I’m accepting that this is part of the grief process but I can empathise with people who decide to completely change direction after a loss. Best wishes xx


My wife passed away 14 November after a long valiant battle with MSA . I have two beautiful daughters one of whom is a GP.

My wife had been put on a ventilator and her consultant had advised she would be unable to breathe alone as the MSA had attacked her respiratory system. I had advised that we should follow her explicit wishes on her respect form and her ventilator was removed

On the day she passed away we all returned home everyone was devastated, my daughters had taken my phone and contacted friends and relatives for me. She also used my NHS app and signed me off work with stress for 3 weeks !

My sleep patterns are all over the place and my concentration is not good but slowly improving so I am returning to work Tuesday 5/12 so I can totally relate to your point!

I was due to retire 21/12 to spend quality time with her but we were robbed of the opportunity by her illness which had deteriorated but was masked by a series of chest infections.

I have decided to go ahead and retire as planned as that way I only have to manage for a couple of weeks …… Some days are better than others and I can concentrate reasonably well, other days I can’t even make a cup or tea without 2 or three attempts

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Good luck @Cat_fan with your return to work tomorrow. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect to be on top form… I’m already struggling with December and it’s only the 4th! Take care xx

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Thankyou, I only have to make it through to the 20/12 then I’m done.

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