‘Life goes on’ is what they say when a tragedy happens, but it isn’t easy to deal with, not only for you but also for the people around you. A personal tragedy changes a person’s life entirely, and in the workplace, you may get a few days off, or you may not. Either way, a few days are not enough to get back up on your feet when you are grieving.
Grief can be isolating, because people around you don’t generally know how to connect with you, and this can heavily affect your work-life. Most times, colleagues want to make sure you’re okay but don’t know how to bring it up, considering these topics aren’t talked about often. If you feel comfortable talking about it, tell your coworkers that you’d be open to addressing it, whether it is outside of the workplace or if it’s over an email, so that you can process your emotions and respond in your own time.
It is important to learn how to deal with personal grief while also continuing to be productive and with that, one also has to deal with fellow colleagues and how they may respond to the situation. “This is the new normal” is something that you have you keep reminding yourself, and there will be times when your emotions would want to get the better of you in front of people, but you have to give yourself space and time. Perhaps you can take a break between meetings and interactions with others, taking pauses like these from the day will help you pace yourself and will also help you to get through the day.
To do this, you will have to find your own sanctuary. There will be times when you would want to be alone, let out a few tears or would just want to escape, and in these times it will be helpful for you to have a space of your own. It could be your car, it could be the washroom or even just an unattended room where you can get some peace and quiet.
A common side effect of grief is frequently spacing out and this ends up being quite counterproductive in a workplace because you may not have the energy to get your tasks done, or may not even know where to start because of how foggy your mind is. Schedules and checklists are your go-to in this case; schedules will make you feel productive and making to-do lists and work calendars will help you organize your work and it’ll also keep you updated with your own progress.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because it’s okay to not have everything straight and figured out. You have to remember to take baby steps, you have to be kind to yourself and understand that this is all a part of grieving, so give yourself as much time as you need. Experiencing a tragedy shakes up your life in ways you may never expect. You don’t need to go back to the life you had before the incident, nobody expects you to be the same as before. If anything, you can take it as an opportunity to grow as a person and bring changes into your own life; like adopting a new lifestyle, or trying new things. If it gets too difficult to deal with, remember that what you’re feeling in that moment is temporary, because moments always pass, and it will get better.