Another one of the most common pieces of advice we hear following a death or loss is to Get Back to Work or Just Keep Busy. It seems the idea is that eventually, life will just get back to normal on its own. But as my post on Getting Back to Normal explains, this really isn't possible, because your life has changed - maybe radically - and you need time to work at assimilating this reality into your life.
It’s true, one should get some normal tasks back into life, but again, you must not deny the emotional needs that you have. Work will give you something to do – but it is an illusion and will not heal anything if you do not actively attend to your healing. It simply pushes aside your emotional needs, pain and truth, and postpones the work you have to do. Your pain is real and you deserve to have it honored.
Now I am not suggesting you shut down, stay in bed and stop living for months at a time (like I did). There are healthy ways to do this, and unhealthy ways, which I explain in my book, Putting Out the Fire. One must balance work with healing - going to a group, talking to a grief coach, sharing memories of a loved one who has passed, building a memorial or taking on a project to honor the deceased. There is also taking care of oneself in terms of food, sleep, exercise and any medication you might need.
But if you go back to work as a way to bury your feelings, as a way of denying what has happened, it will usually backfire on you! Those emotions do not go away really - they may be out of your conscious mind for a while, but they will resurface in other ways when we push them away.
This may manifest itself with:
Inability to focus
Losing things more often than usual
Snapping and short-tempered behavior
Crying for unrelated reasons
Poor sleep or bad dreams
Stomach or digestive disturbances
The stress created by burying one's emotions can emerge through any number of paths - mental, physical or emotional. And this can have long-term effects on your health, your relationships, and your ability to find happiness again, which again, you deserve!
So yes, if you can make it back at work, do that - but also make time for your healing, crying and self-care. Honor your loved one by honoring your Self. If you are not sure if you are ready, get in touch with me, and let's work through it together.
If you would like to speak to me personally about the above subject or any topic surrounding Grief, Loss, coaching or healing, click here to set aside a personal Free ½ Hour Empowerment Call. You are not alone.
Claire M. Schwartz
Leading You Back into the Light after Loss