Working While Grieving

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The last few weeks have been really tough. Between hurricanes, earthquakes, political uprisings, and this week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, it feels like there is so much about which to be sad. The world feels so unstable and unpredictable. And yet, despite whatever apprehension we’re feeling, we all have to keep going. Work still needs to be done, bills still need to paid, dinner still needs to be put on the table.

Perhaps you’ve lost a love one in one of the recent tragedies. Or maybe you have a family member who has been left homeless. Maybe you can’t even find your family member or friend and have no idea whether or not they’re ok. With your mind distracted, it can be hard to get anything done. But, below are a few ways you can help yourself get through these tough times at work.

  1. Recognize your grief. Sometimes when we’re hurting, we want to distract ourselves so that we don’t have to actually feel anything negative. But when we acknowledge our feelings, we rob them of their ability to control us. When we recognize them and give ourselves permission to feel them deeply, we are better prepared to forge ahead. Take a few moments in the morning to allow yourself to feel sadness or anxiety or fear. Sit with your thoughts in silence, even for just a few minutes. It may feel like you’re doing nothing, but this kind of reflection can be incredibly helpful.
  2. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Most of us have more work than we can ever hope to complete in a day. And for the most part, we like to work hard and be the star employee. But, when your mind and heart are elsewhere, it can be hard to live up to your expectations. So when you’re grieving, don’t forget to adjust those expectations to the reality. You might not be able to get to everything, and that’s OK. Be honest with your colleagues and managers and share that you’re experiencing grief and will do your best to get the most important projects accomplished, but may not be able to attend to everything on your plate. Make a list and prioritize your projects by importance. Get the most important ones done, and don’t beat yourself up about the rest.
  3. Give yourself breaks throughout the day. Spending your mental and emotional energy on the tragedies around you is exhausting. Incorporate small breaks into your day so that you can re-energize. Take a walk around your floor after completing a task. Take your lunch break- away from your desk. Spend a few minutes chatting with colleagues. Make sure that you’re giving yourself opportunities to recharge when you need them.
  4. Tell people what you need. People aren’t mind readers, and they may have no idea what you’re going through or how they can help. Be direct and let them know how they can be of assistance. If you need extra time to finish an assignment, a designated quiet space, or just someone to talk to, speak up. Most people will be more than happy to help.
  5. Be kind to yourself.  Nobody likes to feel weak, defeated or scared, all of which we feel when tragedy strikes. Remember that you’re a human being, you’re not made of stone, and it’s ok to be down. When you get home in the evening, order in the take out and leave the laundry in the basket. Prepare yourself a bubble bath, have a glass of wine, hug your loved ones, listen to your favorite song. Do the things that make you feel happy and surround yourself with people who care about you and lift you up.

There is no easy cure for grief. It doesn’t have a time-table and it’s hard. But remember that you WILL get through this. You are strong, you are capable, and you’ve got this.

Until next time.


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