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Back at work

Relationships with family and established routines at home may alter in the aftermath of our child’s death but work has carried on unaffected in spite of our suffering. When we return, we will have to rejoin that world although our hearts are elsewhere.

Our return to work can depend on several factors: our need to pick up the threads of normal life; responsibilities at work; financial necessity; the expectations of our employer; fear of losing our job; and the extra workload on our colleagues who are covering for us. Sometimes we may find some relief in the structure and semblance of normality that being back at work can offer, although we should recognise the effect grief may have on our ability to do our job.

Taking the lead

When we do return we may feel anxious about our reception and how we will cope. It helps if our colleagues know about our child’s death; if the death is ignored we can feel resentful or angry that our life has been devastated and no one wants to know. Taking a lead in conversations can help to lessen any awkwardness particularly if our child has died in complicated circumstances.

TCF’s leaflet Helping a Bereaved Employee may be useful in showing colleagues ways in which we can be supported at this difficult time. Our leaflets Back at Work and Coping with Special Occasions explore in more depth matters such as relationships at work, working alone, managing preparations for Christmas, other festivities and holidays, and expectations on us into the future.

The following publications may also be useful:

Bereavement at Work: a Practical Guide (for employers, the bereaved and their colleagues)

David Charles Edwards, 2000, London: Duckworth

Living with Grief: at Work, at School, at Worship (for the bereaved and for professionals)

Edited by Joyce D. Davidson and Kenneth J. Doka, 1999, Brunner/Mayel for Hospice Foundation of America

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Each year thousands of parents suffer the loss of a son or a daughter. Please help us to support families in their time of greatest need.

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