When will it feel right to go back to work?

My mum suddenly passed away on Christmas day 2016. She was only 48. She had a subarachnoid haemorrhage, due a genetic condition that I have too (that worry is a whole other post!).
All the things that have been keeping me busy have now slowed down and I’m left feeling a huge gap in my life and I’m tearful more often than I’m not these last few days.
I am dreading going back to work. Terrified of not enjoying my job anymore or messing up. I’m a nurse and my mum was a nurse also, my role model. I am so scared of letting her down. I am studying anaesthetics at university too so I feel like there is too much pressure to go back to but I don’t want to give up. I want to get my act together and go back to work but I’m not ready and fear I never will be.
Also, does anyone else feel like they are stuck in a time warp at the point when their loved one left? I keep thinking it is still Christmas. I miss her so much and just wish she was here to advise me like she used to on work things.

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Hi KJE91,

I’m so sorry to hear about your mum passing away. It sounds as though it was very sudden and it must have been a huge shock.

While you wait for replies to this post, you might be interested to have a read of this conversation from a little while back, where people discussed the issue of going back to work: https://support.sueryder.org/community/life-after-bereavement/going-back-work

Feel free to add a reply there, or in any other conversation you would like to join in with.

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Hi KJE91,
Everyone is different you will know when you are ready to go back to work, I found I needed to come back to work quite quickly as I was finding the empty house and quiet too much to bear and I wanted to be around people, so although my hubby only passed away on the 15th Dec I cam back to work on 10th Jan, some people take 3 months, some 6, it is down to how you feel. Maybe you could try going back on a poart time basis as a start and build it up.
I still get very tearfull, but I just go to the first aid room (I am the senior first aider) and have a weep then get back on with work again, my work HR dept have been very understanding and have said I can do whatever I need to do including going home if it gets too much.
I hope you find your way and are able to continue with your studies, remember you are not alone and we are here with you. It is a horrible road we are all on but hopefully together we can ease each others burdens a little.

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Thank you Pandy and so sorry to hear of your loss of your husband. It is reassuring to know your coping mechanisms at work and I think I’ll be the same. I can go and hide in the sluice room and then return. That’s very kind of your HR department to let you know going home is always an option. I worry I’d feel trapped. But it’s just like if anyone becomes unwell, they have to find cover.
I think having my brother here every day has been a welcome distraction but he has gone home to Scotland for a week giving me time to do some me things.
The world just feels like a very different and strange place at the minute.
I’m glad you’ve got plenty of support and thank you for offering some to me.

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Hi kje91, my mum passed away 17 nov last year… i took nearly 7 weeks off work. I work in care and couldnt face caring for others when i couldnt care for my mum… but i couldnt afford to be off any longer. In a way it has done me some good being around others. But my mum is always in my thoughts and i do get upset very easily and have had a good few meltdowns… i feel like i am in my own little world sometimes and i miss my mum very much…hugs to you x

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I lost my mum a few months ago, and also my mother in law, 4 weeks after. I miss my mum terribly, but working is the only thing that keeps me from falling apart. I just got straight back after the funeral. When it’s my day off, I am depressed and tearful. It’s sad, but really we all have to go on. I can’t change anything, so I try and keep myself as busy as I can. Everyone has their own way of grieving, but I realised I can’t bring my mum back by sitting at home crying, so for me, work was a godsend . My heart goes out to you, and all the others like us. I wish you all live and strength .

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i would like to recommend to everyone to have a look at this link below

it is about being kind to ourselves

we find it a lot easier to be compassionate or sympathetic to other people but not to ourselves.

we are often too hard on ourselves and set far too high an expectations as to when we SHOULD do things or should feel or how long we should be a certain way…

so have a look and i hope you will find something useful

www.self-compassion.org

hang in there…

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Hi KJE91,
I have just joined this site today and yr post touched on some of my thoughts currently.
My wonderful father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the beginning of Jan 2017 and my feelings, emotions are all over the place, varying daily.
I too am a nurse and have not been back to work in a hospital since. I was at work on the ward when my father was brought to A and E in the same hospital.
I have worries that I should be going back to work , but I also know currently that I would not be up to doing such a responsible job.
Am dreading going back and having to deliver bad news to families or care for people who are dying and their families. I can put myself in that position and see myself totally breaking down, obviously no good to anyone, so then I think ( and try and console) my thoughts with that its better for me to remain off whilst I feel like this. How long this will be I just dont know.

It is very difficult for you to be studying too.
I also have revalidation coming up to worry about.

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The thing with grief is that it is not going to go away any time soon. I went back to work straight away after my mum died , and it was the best thing I could have done. On my days off though, I get very depressed and cry a lot, so going to work really helps me try and move on. It could be a year or even two before you feel the grief is starting to subside ( so they tell us) I don’t think you’re going to wake up one morning, and decide you’re over it, however, is there anyway that you could be protected from having to face grieving relatives in your job. I’m sure you bosses would understand. My mother in law died within 4 weeks of my mum, and then a close friend, so 3 funerals within 4 weeks( 2 in the same week) it’s amazing how we find the strength to cope when others are grieving, but save our own grief for when we are alone. My heart goes out to you, and I really hope you find that strength to get back to some kind of normality soon . Always remember, the first day will be the worst. It will only get better x

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Pattisue,
Thank - you for reply.
Very complicated re my job to explain ! Always feeling guilty about being off and really dont want that worry on top off everything else.
Sorry to read of yr sad times also.
Yr words are very kind.
Kind Regards x

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Pattisue, it’s very brave of you to go straight back to work after all that. You must lucky enough to have a supportive manager? And a lot of confidence in yourself, well done.
Dovedale, I totally understand your concern about going back to work and not being up to the job. In the nhs we get penalised for having separate periods of sickness, which was a concern of mine because I’ve been on my final letter for sickness in the past for my own health…but thinking about it logically now, if you go back and do not feel able to cope, you go off sick again and it will be the same reason for being off sick - “bereavement” or “work related stress” so we should not be penalised for that and no warnings etc should be issued. I don’t know if that worries you too? But if you are in a union, a union rep can help to reassure you too. But take as much time as you need. I wish I had thought about it like that too.
After planning to go back, I needed another 3 weeks off as my brother went into hospital. He is still in hospital now and will probably be there a while longer. He is struggling with psychiatric issues and possibly neurological issues too.
I felt as though I’d lost my brother too and have struggled with anxiety since all of this.
I went back to work last week on a phased return. Day one was great, then I felt overwhelmed by things, short staffing and shift length increasing too fast, etc but felt unable to speak to my manager. Struggled to express just how worried I felt about things…I spoke to a different manager and summoned the courage to speak to my own manager yesterday about my anxieties, she has now done my return to work and put everything I wanted in place for me.
They have to accommodate your needs at this difficult time!! Or you would just go off sick again and they don’t want that.
Hope this is of some help xx

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