Returning to Work After the Death of a Loved One

Returning to Work After the Death of a Loved One

By Julie Morris

In the previous blog information on coping with the loss of a loved one provided the first steps for many.  In this blog explore what comes next which, for many, includes returning to work.  Whether for yourself or for insights working with clients after completing your coaching certification, the perspectives here are helpful.

Returning to Work
After working through the stages of grief and experiencing time to mourn, you or your client will eventually feel ready to return to work. Whether you return to your previous job or not, it is important to find the light during this painful time.

“Sitting in depression with your curtains closed, no one’s going to give you back those 24 hours,” says trauma survivor, Terry Gobanga, whose husband died unexpectedly less than one month after their wedding day. “Before you know, it’s a week, a month, a year wasted away.” Gobanga eventually learned to reclaim her life – and so can you or your client. It all starts with giving one’s self permission to grieve and mourn.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg says her return to work after her husband’s sudden death helped take her mind off of her grief, even if only for brief seconds at a time. She believes that by processing negative events, such as the death of a spouse or loved one, we learn to build resilience.

When returning to work, take it in baby steps – one hour at a time. With some proactivity and some self compassion, reclaim life after the death of a loved one. As you move forward with your life, your loved one will be with you in memory and in spirit. Remember that and stay strong.

When coaching someone through this process, apply what you learned in coach training: ask your client to define specifically what they want, identify what might get in the way, plan their strategies, list resources, and define action steps.  Support them with inquiry about their follow-through and by celebrating their progress and successes.

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