Going Back to Work After Bereavement

Posted: 19/01/2018

Getting on with any aspect of your daily routine can be particularly difficult after you have suffered the loss of a loved one, particularly if it came to you as a shock. Whilst there is no surefire way to get you feeling back to normal after bereavement, there are many steps you can take in order to ease yourself back into your day-to-day activities.

Talk With Your Boss

  • Outline your situation – no detail is necessary
  • Explain your needs 
  • Be forgiving of yourself if you need help

The first and foremost thing that you should do if you are suffering from bereavement is to tell your boss or whoever manages you that you are suffering from a recent loss. It is likely that from an administrative perspective you have already had to do so, be it to take time to grieve or attend a funeral. If you think you might need deadlines to be pushed back or to get extra help with assignments due to your welfare, it is vital that your boss is kept in the loop.



The benefit of having your close colleagues and boss know about your situation is that they will likely be gentle with you and will be able to take steps to ease you back into your workflow, rather than inundate you with tasks that will only add to your personal stresses. It is in their interest as well as yours to look after you, as teams function better with transparency. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help or for some time out if you are finding a particular day especially hard to cope with.

Get Extra Sleep

  • Go to bed early
  • Get up at the same time every day
  • Avoid napping

Both body and mind heal are able to heal themselves while we are sleeping. When grieving, it is imperative that we allow our bodies the rest that they need in order to deal with the stress that they are under.




Sleeping a lot is a typical bodily reaction towards stress and grief, and it is certainly the case that you need more of it during bereavement. Do be careful not to over-sleep, however. Getting into a pattern of constant dozing can do terrible things for your mood by increasing your lethargy and reducing your physical activity.

Have Healthy Food and Drink

  • Get a balanced diet
  • Eat three meals a day and have healthy snacks between meal times 
  • Avoid excessive alcohol

Adopting a healthy, balanced diet is not only good for the body but good for the mind, too. The physical symptoms of grief can change one’s appetite greatly, making them forget to eat, overeat or engage in unhealthy eating habits. It is important if you are gearing up to getting back into the working day to keep your energy levels steady and your body well-nourished.




If the loss of a loved one has thrown your eating patterns into disarray, going back to work should actually help bring them back to working order. Try having lunch with your colleagues, and avoid eating at your desk in solitude; it may take some effort, but you will feel all the better for eating properly.

When grieving, it might be an idea to steer cleer of alcohol or excessive alcohol-drinking due to the depressive side-effects that inevitably come with it. Moderation is always the best policy when you are emotional and under stress.

For more information on how food can affect your mood and wellbeing, visit UK mental health charity, Mind, here.

Take Breaks in the Fresh Air

  • Go for a walk around the block
  • Volunteer to run errands out of the office
  • Have a breather on the street or in a nearby green area 

Working life can be overwhelming at the best of times, regardless of whatever is going on in your personal life. If you are suffering bereavement, it is a good idea to take breaks from the day (whatever your job may be) for some time-out. If possible, take breaks in the fresh air to clear your lungs and your mind.




If you have a good relationship with your colleagues, you may consider asking one of them to take a break with you. Talking about bereavement is a healthy thing to do, and is a vital aspect of the healing process. You do not have to suffer in silence in the workplace.

Ultimately, the most important thing to consider when going back to work after bereavement is your own health. Nobody in the workplace could expect somebody to be operating at their best levels of functionality after suffering the loss of a loved one, so you should not expect that of yourself either. Be aware of your personal limits, and don’t let yourself or anyone else push you too hard at work. Grieving is about self-preservation and healing, so your well-being must come before any deadline or assignment; there will always be another colleague available to help when you need it most.

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