Returning to work

Returning to work after you’ve lost a loved one to suicide can be difficult – but it could also be opportunity to keep occupied and return to  a new kind of normality and routine.

When should I return to work?

The timing and reasons for returning to work will be different for everyone.  You may make the decision based on finances or see it as an opportunity to take a break from grief you’re experiencing.  Whatever your reason, ease into it slowly and don’t expect too much from yourself.

What should I be prepared for returning to work?
  • You will be reminded of your loss: co-workers will pass on their condolences and "I'm sorry" sentiments.A simple "thank you” is all that is necessary – you don’t need to share your situation with anyone you don’t feel comfortable with.
  • You might find it hard to concentrate and retain information: grief can be exhausting. If you’re concerned about this, check your work or ask a co-worker to review what you have done.
  • You might struggle getting back into the swing of things: let your manager or co-workers know if you’re having difficulty and ask for their help if you need it.
  • You may get emotional in front of colleagues: it’s fine to take a break or excuse yourself if you need to.
What can I do to make my transition back to work easier?

If you are grieving, you may be dreading the thought of returning to work. But there some things you can do to prepare yourself and your co-workers for your return:

  • Let your work know what has happened – only provide as much information as you are comfortable sharing.
  • Choose a key person (e.g. manager or HR) to keep informed on funeral arrangements, time away from work and your progress.
  • You might decide to give your key person enough information to share with your workplace, to keep speculation at a minimum. If people ask too many questions, let them know.
  • Let your office know if you want to be included in email updates while you’re away from work.
  • Arrange to go into the office to meet co-workers for lunch before returning to work.
  • Consider half-days or shorter working weeks to ease your way back.
  • Set up regular meetings with your manager or team to discuss your limits, concerns and ask for feedback.
  • Encourage your co-workers to learn more about suicide and grief. This way they can better understand what you’re experiencing.
Know your rights

Make sure you’re clear on rights and responsibilities related to your job. Both employers and employees have formal rights and responsibilities under discrimination, privacy, and work health and safety legislation.

If you're experiencing any issues in your workplace or about your role, make a time to speak openly with your manager openly about it. Take some time to think about possible solutions and discuss them with your manager.

For more tips on returning to work visit Heads Up

Crisis support

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. Other services include:

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