Advice for Going Back to Work After Bereavement Leave

Posted by: Erin Ward in Grief and Guidance | July 8
When coping with the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to return to your daily routine, like going back to work. However, by understanding your needs and communicating them to your coworkers, you can all work together to make sure your transition back into work is as smooth as possible.

Below are a few tips for returning to work after bereavement leave.

Do you want advice on how to help a grieving coworker? Check out this article. 

When Returning from Bereavement Leave, Determine Your Needs

By determining your needs, it can help prevent uncomfortable situations. It isn’t selfish to establish boundaries; it’s necessary for your self-care and healthy grieving.

For example, determine your needs when it comes to your work schedule, workload, and communication with your coworkers. Do you need more time off to grieve your loss? Would a lighter workload help you adjust back into your work routine? Do you want your coworkers to ask how you’re doing or give you some space? These are all important questions to consider.

Communicate Your Needs with Your Coworkers

Once you’ve made a list of your needs, you can meet with your coworkers to talk about them privately. This can be an in-person meeting, video chat, phone call, or even via email or instant messaging. Choose whichever method you’re most comfortable with. Depending on the size of your team, you may want to just meet with your manager and have them relay the information to everyone else.

By sharing your needs, you can discuss how your team can help you accomplish them, as you don’t have to navigate this alone. For example, if you need more time off, you can determine a schedule that works best for you. Whether you want to be on part-time or out of the office completely, your coworkers can catch you up on anything important.

If you need a lighter workload, you can determine which teammates would be best suited for completing necessary tasks. It’s important not to feel guilty for passing off tasks, as you would do the same for them.

Also, let your coworkers know how they can best comfort you as you grieve your loss. This can help them better navigate the situation because they may want to help but don’t want to upset you. Let them know if you want to talk about your grief or if you would rather talk about something else.

Be Kind to Yourself

Remember that you’re grieving a loss, so it may take a while until things feel normal again. Rather than focusing on returning to normal, focus on finding your new normal. By doing this, you can find a way to accomplish your daily goals while keeping your loved one’s memory close. It won’t happen overnight; it will take time, so please be kind to yourself as you grieve and navigate your new normal. Make time for self-care and doing activities that honor your loved one’s memory.

What other advice do you have for going back to work after bereavement leave? Share your tips with us in the comments!

1 Comment


Helen Truman

November 9, 2020

I went back to work on a Friday, so I could have all the I'm so sorry, etc. over with.
Monday was a new day, a new way of life.
Many were the days, I left my office, took a short walk, and started again.

Recommended For You

Caring for an Ailing Parent with Confidence
5 days ago
Reversing the roles of caregiver and dependent is complicated and emotional. Adult children can become caregivers of the...[Read More]
10 Things to Do If You Have to Miss a Funeral
July 9
Q: One of the neighbors from my parent’s house recently passed away. A service is planned for later this week but I can’...[Read More]
Cope with Grief Through Art Therapy
July 9
When coping with the loss of a loved one, many people turn to art as a meaningful outlet to express their feelings. Plus...[Read More]