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Dr. Therese Rando

Dr. Therese Rando

Psychologist, grief specialist and author of How to Go on...

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David Kessler

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Helen Fitzgerald

Helen Fitzgerald

Certified death educator, author and lecturer

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Life After Death

After the arrangements have been made, the funeral procession has ended, and the out-of-town relatives have gone home, there comes a point when you simply must return to “normal” life.
As difficult as it may be, you will eventually have to go back to work. Helen Fitzgerald of the American Hospice Foundation has some helpful advice on returning to work after the loss of a loved one. For some, work is a welcome release from days that were previously spent dwelling on the sadness at hand. Work is most likely a place that did not include the person who passed, so it may retain an ounce of normalcy, being mostly unchanged by the tragedy.
For others, returning to work can be very daunting, especially when faced with the prospect of having to recount your tale of woe to each person that comes up to you with the pitying eyes and the “I’m so sorry” sentiments. You may also fear a possible breakdown in front of employees.
No matter what your mindset, Fitzgerald has many suggestions on how to make a successful return to work, such as starting out with a few half-days to ease you back, or even going to work for an hour a few days before your official return to get that initial session of sympathy out of the way.
How have you dealt with returning to work after grieving a loss? Do you have any tips for making the transition easier?

Posted: 5/23/08

I lost my husband almost 10 years ago. At the time, I wasn't employed full-time, as we were preparing to move out of state. As fortunate as it may seem to not have to experience the glaring spotlight, well-meaning comments & "poor her" looks, having a job to return to would've brought a welcome sense of normalcy in my world at that time. As it was, I returned to my home state a month after he passed. Once I began interviewing for jobs a month later, I had to explain about the employment gap - that's when I got those looks from people. When I did accept a position, I found that a little ol' 8-5 job was great for getting me back on my feet again & starting my healing process.
Another thing I did was contact a local funeral home for support groups geared toward younger widows/widowers, as I was 38 when my husband died. Many support groups for grieving spouses are provided for the elderly but it's harder to find ones for younger folks. It was comforting to know that I wasn't alone in this area.
I also read....A LOT. Mostly about losing a spouse, surviving the loss of a spouse & that sort of thing. Sounds depressing & maybe morbid but it's what got me through at the time. Once I hit the 2 or 3 year anniversary, I donated all those books to a local Grief Resource Center so they might help someone else like they did me.


I lost my dad sudden but for me i seen in his eyes he was prepared for his maker so when the pity started i let them know he knew where he was going and I knew that let them know that was enough,he worked hard and expected us to keep on living because we always have him in our hearts so we didnt want to let him down we stood strong and prayer helps.

  • By Anonymous
  • on 5/26/08 12:26 AM EST