The grieving process involves five stages: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Each person spends a different amount of time and experiences varying levels of intensity in each stage. In fact, you may experience the stages in a different order from someone else. Yet, life continues to move on around you after you lose a loved one, and you eventually need to learn how to manage your grief when your bereavement time ends. We share three tips below, in the hopes that we can help you navigate your grief a little more easily when you return to work.

  1. Communicate Your Needs to Your Boss and Colleagues

Many people find that their boss and colleagues want to help them transition to work after the loss of a loved one. The key is to communicate your needs to them to make your return to work easier and more comfortable for you. Call your HR manager, email your boss, or contact your closest work friend prior to your return date and let her know what she can do to help you. You also may work out a flexible schedule that allows you to work from home for a few hours a week or to work part-time until you feel more focused at work.

Alternatively, you may be more comfortable if you send a mass email to inform everyone of your loss and ask them to respect your privacy when you return, or you may ask them to feel free to talk with you about your loss because it will help you heal. You will feel more at ease if you remain in control of your return to work and communicate your needs to your boss and colleagues ahead of time.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

You spend so much time thinking about your family and your loved ones during a time of grief that it is easy to forget about taking care of yourself and your needs. One of the best ways that you can manage your grief and make your return to work more successful is to practice self-care. You need to be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. You may need to take a few extra minutes to talk yourself out of your car on your first day back. You may ask your spouse to walk you into work. You may need an extra-long break or lunch for the first few days back. Listening to yourself and your needs will help you ease back to work in a healthy way.

You also should eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water when you return to work. Grief is mentally and physically taxing, and you need the proper fuel for your body to survive the work day. You also should make it a point to rest and get enough sleep as you prepare to return to work. And, when you are at work, take steps to manage your stress: listen to soothing sounds or music or practice deep breathing when you feel anxious or overwhelmed.

  1. Take Advantage of Bereavement Resources

Another way to take care of yourself at work is to take advantage of bereavement resources that can help you manage your grief. Free online programs are available, and they come with advice, tips, and resources in weekly emails over the course of weeks or months. The advantage of an online programs are that you can access the content anytime, day or night, from home or at work, to find a way through your grief and experience peace. Knowing that you have a source of comfort available at your fingertips will help you through your work day as you transition back after the loss of a loved one.

You may never feel quite ready to return to work after the loss of a loved one, but you will be in a better position to make your grief more manageable if you communicate your needs to your boss and colleagues, take care of yourself, and take advantage of bereavement resources.

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