Career has always been my biggest focus – I thoroughly enjoy my work as a writer and digital marketer. In fact, it is in most part, my identity. This is the case for many women globally. However, losing someone close to you and experiencing sudden grief can quite literally wipe you off your feet. In the beginning stages, it consumes you and it is not possible to even think about work, let alone undertake it. This is why bereavement leave exists.
There can be many questions running through your head while grieving and weighing up career options. Determining how much time to take off may feel instinctual or it may be a really hard decision to make. It’s important to note that your mental wellbeing comes first before your career – don’t feel pressured into returning when you don’t need to, if your gut instinct says you’re not ready.
It will be difficult to head back to work regardless of industry. Whether you work for diesel engine reconditioners or are in a corporate role, it doesn’t remove the fact that your grief will make it difficult to function. Each person will struggle with different elements. You may want to curl up in bed and avoid people. Or you may find it more difficult being stuck in front of a computer in your own thoughts, and instead, crave human interaction.
Here are some important tips that may help you navigate your career while allowing yourself to grieve after losing someone.
Try avoid career stress from adding to the grief
It’s difficult enough to lose someone, however, career stress on top of this is a whole other ball game. Taking time off doesn’t mean you are stopping yourself from achieving your career goals – in fact, it helps you to achieve them. Neglecting to navigate grief can result in a mental breakdown which may result in stopping you from working long term.
This time off isn’t a bad thing. It will only act as a temporary pause or even may enlighten you to reevaluate your plans and the area you want to focus on. A new passion may arise throughout the journey.
Reassess your needs as time goes on. If the mandatory bereavement leave runs out and you are understandably not ready to return, use annual leave or sick leave if possible. Healthy workplaces as well as clients should understand grief. In the circumstances your leave application is denied, it may be more beneficial for your wellbeing if you resign, if financially viable.
Protect your energy
The key tip here is to be selective about who you interact with. Following a death, you may be bombarded with messages and in some cases, people may do more harm than good. It can be easy to feel anger or frustration around some words and especially some people that may offend you while attempting to console you.
Your mental wellbeing comes first in this scenario – don’t respond or spend time with people who have a negative impact. It’s not your responsibility to get back to people during these times and those that matter will instinctively understand this.
If speaking to people overwhelms you then use your spare time to recharge alone. Being selective about interaction in your time outside of work will make your work environment easier.
Let’s say you do work for diesel reconditioning engineering services and you do usually need to face customers everyday at work. Speak to your boss and be open with how you feel. If they are understanding, they may be willing to switch up customer interactions for a few months to let you have time to yourself. It’s best to communicate with colleagues and let them know how you are feeling and that you will need to adapt in order to get through. Ignoring this and pushing yourself too hard with interactions may end up in a mental breakdown.
Allow yourself to feel and don’t pressure yourself
If you feel the need to rest all the time on your weekends, do so. If you feel the need to surround yourself with people, do so. Listen to your needs, allow all emotions to flow through you and do not feel bad for slowing down or acting differently.
Grief triggers a range of emotions and these don’t come in chronological order nor do they arrive with warning signs and at specific levels. Overwhelming waves of grief can even come ten or twenty years down the track.
In order to function at your best in your career, let grief pass through you.
Regardless of where you work and its setup – a diesel engine reconditioning service, a media news company, a bank or any additional work place – grief is consuming. There are difficulties continuing work in all facets, customer-facing, labour and computer-based careers. This is due to the simple fact that grief is consuming. Remind yourself that your feelings are completely normal and valid. Take it minute by minute – your career will always be there waiting for you.
Olivia is a business owner and a freelance writer who currently writes content for Franklin Engineering, diesel engine reconditioners which focuses on engine reconditioning and diesel engineering services.