3 ways to cope with fearfulness when returning to work after a bereavement

For some, the return to work after experiencing the loss of a loved one is a welcome distraction. But for others, going back to ‘normal’ can fill you with dread. Whether it’s the well-meaning questions from colleagues, lack of concentration or worries about being judged, it can be challenging to think about dealing with your emotions at work. 

Throwing your usual day-to-day work routine into the mix of grief, loss and pain can be daunting, but we’re here to help you cope with fearfulness when returning to work after a bereavement.


Why is coping with fearfulness important?

Allowing yourself the time to grieve and process your life without the person is crucial to coming to terms with the loss. However, being able to maintain that connection whilst embarking on your new life’ without them can help you to manage in the long-term and reach a place of peace and acceptance. This makes the return to work, as well as your everyday life, easier to cope with.

Reducing the overwhelm or anxiety you feel once back at work is also beneficial for your productivity. If you are feeling distracted and unmotivated, but you also have a tendency to listen to your inner critic or be hard on yourself, then this can result in a vicious cycle of feeling inadequate. 

You might be asking yourself: Why can’t I do this like everyone else? How does everyone else carry on with their life?

How can you do this?

Here are three accessible ways you can start to calm your fears on the first day back after a loss.


Remind yourself that it’s completely normal to be apprehensive and emotional. Bereavement is a big change in our lives, and no one expects us to just carry on as normal. Any emotions you have are valid, and recognising them is the first step in accepting that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling. No two experiences are the same, and some people may be better at hiding their emotions. 


Don’t underestimate the power of a simple conversation with your co-workers, whether it’s about your bereavement or something completely irrelevant. By maintaining those connections and letting people know how you feel, you’re less likely to feel isolated. 


Lastly, you might not feel like your usual productive or efficient self, so it’s important to forgive yourself during this time. From forgetfulness and trouble concentrating, to making mistakes or not meeting your expectations, remember that it’s a process. You won’t get back to normal all at once – it can take time.

Even if it’s been a few weeks or months since you’ve returned, remember that grief often comes in waves, so don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re taking a step backwards. Find peace with the situation. Bottling up your emotions will only make it worse in the long-term. You might find that journaling is a useful way to process your feelings

Working and grief

When you’ve had a close bereavement, working can be an effective distractor that enables you to keep functioning. It offers you a break from grieving.

With 1 in 10 people being affected by bereavement at any one time, you’re not alone. Whilst this

might be of some comfort to you, with this course, you’ll learn that there is no one size fits all

approach to the grieving process.