S3E1 - Grief and returning to workplace

Author Posted On 22 December 2023

Podcast Transcript

Hey, dear listeners. Welcome back to another episode of "Grief Untangled: Untangling the threads of grief, healing, and hope." I'm your host, Coach DD, and our topic for today is Grief and its profound impact on the workplace.

When Grief strikes, our world is shattered, priorities are shifted and our emotional state is at rock bottom. At this point, it is our test of resilience because that alone decides how we face various facets of our lives that still expect us to continue our duties like before. Sometimes even more

And yes, career is one of those facet.

I would like to remind you that we conduct a free webinar every week (on Fridays) covering this exact topic and it is called as Emotional Resilience Blueprint. In the webinar, I reveal the essential elements of Resilience, 3 secrets to resilience and introduce you to scientifically researched tools in the area of Grief and Resilience.

The link is available in the channel and episode description for you if you consider joining.


Let’s get into today’s subject of grief and workplace

[Segment 1: Emotional Turmoil]

The emotional turbulence after a loss can be all-consuming, particularly when reintegrating into the professional sphere.

The grieving process is ongoing, and returning to the workplace can intensify emotions like sadness, anger, or confusion.

There might also be a fear of breaking down emotionally in front of colleagues or while trying to focus on work tasks.

It's normal to feel a whirlwind of emotions. A practical tip that I may share is to Prioritize self-compassion. Understand that emotions may come and go unexpectedly. 

Also, Sharing your emotional state with someone you trust at work, fosters empathy and creates a supportive atmosphere.

[Segment 2: Difficulty Concentrating]

Grief can affect cognitive functions, making it challenging to concentrate, make decisions, or focus on tasks. Thoughts about the loss may intrude, making it difficult to stay present in work-related activities.

You can break tasks into bite-sized portions. Set realistic goals and communicate openly with your team about your workload. This not only helps manage cognitive strain but also creates a supportive environment where understanding and flexibility thrive.

I remember, when I joined my job back, I was operating only at my 10 % capability. Work can be a good distraction but drowning yourself in work does not help either in the long run. Before we realize it may become a negative coping strategy which I talked about in Episode 17 because we are unknowingly blocking the expression of those grief emotions.

[Segment 3: Interpersonal Dynamics]

Interactions with colleagues can become a minefield of unexpected stress.

Colleagues might not know how to approach or support the grieving person, leading to potentially awkward interactions.

Grieving individuals may feel isolated if they perceive a lack of understanding or empathy from their colleagues.

What we can do is, be open about your preferences regarding discussions about your loss. Establish clear communication boundaries to manage interactions gracefully. Seek support from coworkers who may have experienced similar situations, creating a compassionate network within the workplace.

[Segment 4: Navigating Professional Expectations]

There may be a perceived expectation to return to normal work responsibilities immediately, leading to additional stress. Striking a balance between personal grief and professional expectations can be challenging.

In this case, it is better to Initiate a transparent conversation with your employer about your needs. Advocate for realistic timelines and workload adjustments when necessary. This dialogue fosters mutual understanding, reducing the pressure to meet pre-grief performance levels immediately.

It's equally important for workplaces to foster a compassionate and supportive environment, acknowledging that everyone grieves differently. Providing resources, encouraging open communication, and offering flexibility can help individuals navigate the challenges of returning to work after the loss of a loved one.

I was lucky in that area as my colleagues in Amsterdam, the Netherlands were very supportive all though out my grieving journey.

[Segment 5: Changes in Priorities]

The loss may prompt a reassessment of personal and professional priorities, potentially leading to a desire for career changes.

What once seemed important may no longer hold the same significance, causing internal conflict.

Engage in deep self-reflection. Consider seeking the guidance of a career Coach to align your evolving values with your professional pursuits. This process empowers you to make decisions that resonate authentically with your changed perspective.

Again, I left my IT career of 16 years and became a Grief & Resilience Coach because I could no longer connect with the work I was doing. Moreover, a strong desire arose in me to help others in this area of Grief and Resilience that triggered my career change.

[Segment 6: Workplace Reminders]

The workplace may be filled with reminders of the person who passed away, adding an extra layer of emotional difficulty. Colleagues may unintentionally say or do things that trigger grief, causing distress.

The workplace can transform into a minefield of emotional triggers.

Now here, establishing a robust support system within the workplace is crucial. Share your preferences regarding workplace reminders with your team, fostering an open conversation about creating an environment that respects your grieving process. This helps to transform triggers into opportunities for understanding and empathy.


Navigating grief is a journey that no one should undertake alone. Seeking support is not a sign of weakness; it's a recognition of our shared humanity. In these difficult times, reaching out for help becomes an anchor, grounding us in the middle of the storm. 

Whether from friends, family, or professional coaches, accepting support provides solace and a reminder that we're not alone in our pain. It's a courageous step towards healing, allowing the warmth of connection to illuminate the path through the darkest days.

Remember, reaching out is not a burden; it's an act of self-compassion and a testament to the power of communal healing.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of the challenges of returning to the workplace after experiencing loss. 

Join me next time on "Grief Untangled" as we continue to unravel the intricacies of navigating life after loss, both in our personal and professional spheres.

Until then, take care of yourselves and those around you.

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