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Finding Strength: Returning to Work after Child Loss

Updated: Mar 13

workplace and child loss

Returning to work after losing a child can be one of the most difficult things a grieving mother will face. While there is no right or wrong way to handle this situation, there are a few things that can help make the transition back to work a little easier.

Acknowledge Your Grief

It's important to acknowledge your grief and understand that it's normal to experience a wide range of emotions when returning to work after child loss. You may feel angry, sad, anxious, or even numb, but more than anything it's common to be frightened about what people might say or do.

I was extremely fortunate. I had loads of sick leave and took ten months off to work on my grief and support my family transition into this new reality that we faced. I knew that my co-workers wanted to support me in my return to work, but I also knew that they didn't know how to do that.

Communicate with Your Employer

It is important to communicate with your employer about your needs upon your return to work. This can include requesting time off for grief counseling, flexible work hours, or a modified workload. Be clear about what you need and how your employer and co-workers can support you during this transition.

It will be easier for you to go back to work if you plan a short visit before you're actually due back to work. This way you can get those 'first interactions' out of the way. If you have a trusted friend or co-worker, you might tell them how you would like others to interact with you. For example, if you would rather not be asked questions then let them share that with the staff. If you would like your co-workers to talk opening with you about your child and your experience, then make that know. No one can read our minds, so we must be the communicators.

Set Realistic Expectations

It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself as you return to work. Understand that you may not be able to perform at the same level as before, and that is okay. Give yourself permission to take breaks when needed, and try to prioritize tasks that are most important.

Take Care of Yourself

It is important to take care of yourself during this time. This includes eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that bring you comfort and joy. Self-care can help you cope with the stress of returning to work after child loss as well. You might try to take a walk on your lunch break. Getting outside and getting fresh air can help you get through the day.

Find Support

Find support from coworkers, friends, family, or a grief support group. Having people to talk to and lean on can make all the difference in your transition back to work.

In a grief support group, members can find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their journey. They can share their emotions and experiences with others who understand what they are going through, and can offer support, empathy, and compassion. Group members can learn from each other's experiences, and gain insight into their own grief process.

Support groups can also provide a sense of validation and normalization of grief. Members can learn that their feelings and reactions are normal and expected, which can help alleviate feelings of guilt, shame or isolation. Members can also learn coping skills and strategies that have worked for others in the group. Returning to work after losing a child is a difficult and emotional experience. However, with the right support, communication, and self-care, it is possible to make the transition a little easier. Remember to be kind to yourself, and allow yourself the time and space to grieve.

XO Lisa

(Katie's mom)

PS: If you are looking for ways to honour your child on their birthday, "angel anniversary", and all the other special days of the year, this free resource has over 80 ideas. You can request it HERE.

child loss resource for grieving moms

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