Bereavement affecting work
Tagged: Bereavement work sick leave
12 July 2020 at 1:03 pm #42178
My dad passed away in February and we held his funeral mid March. I was on parental leave with my little boy, who is 21 months old (adopted) and I was due to return to work from parental leave in May. However, due to the COVID crisis I offered to return to work earlier on less days- this helped me reduce my annual leave (carried over) and was less hassle with childcare. I thought I was managing ok, but the loss of my dad, who was also my best friend, just keeps creeping up on me and I am often crying at work. The only time I am without my son is when I’m at work. And up until about 2 weeks ago, my mum was round at my house every evening and weekend and she’s struggling with her grief, so I felt I had to bottle up my grief. This meant I never had any time to myself unless at work. I work 3 days a week and would be upset at least one day, sometimes more frequently. So I did something I’ve tried to avoid for 4 months- I webt for support from my Doctor. He instantly provided a Fit Note for one month, which I presented to work. It felt a relief as it meant I would have 3 days when my son is in childcare and I focus on my feelings. I also arranged for counselling, which has started- I find it difficult as it’s all over the telephone, but I’m persevering as I can’t carry on living in this sadness. The biggest issue is now that my manager phoned me (on a non-working day, she was on leave the day I presented the Fit Note) and she said she thinks I’d be better in work, that having this time off will make it harder for me to return to work. I reminded her that I’m often crying at my desk and she replied that no one has seen that so I shouldn’t worry. She ended the call saying she’d ring back again on Friday for an update. She didn’t, so I was tense waiting for this call unnecessarily. She then sent me an email, very professionally written (when we often just text or use FB messenger) to say she was proposing a phone meeting in 2 days time. It clashed with counselling so she agreed to move it to the Friday. The email included “to discuss your progress in your plans to return to work”. This was only 10 days from me submitting the month long Fit Note for “bereavement” so it felt like a lot of pressure of return to work. She phoned on the Friday and commented that she got the impression that counselling wasn’t working for me and asked several times what my “plan” was. I said I wanted to manage my grief, that it was affecting my relationship with my son. Lockdown has made it so hard as I can’t just call round to see family and friends so it’s built up to the point of me crying myself to sleep and feeling exhausted. Which I’ve been saying to my manager for months. Anyway, my manager said she has to have a meeting with me at 28 days from sick leave starting. She said they would typically involve her visiting me at home or a cafe but that it wasn’t an option due to COVID so I have to attend a meeting at work. I am actually due back in work the following week but she said this meeting still has to happen. I’ll have to walk past my colleagues to get to her office, so I already feel anxious, if someone asks if I’m ok, I cry- I’ve just no control I think this is partially because I’ve barely seen anyone since lockdown started. I very rarely go shopping as I don’t want to put my son at any risk, so have relied on my mum getting bits for me. I’m only due in work (back from sick leave) for 2 day before 2 weeks of annual leave start, then I’ve got odd days booked off to use up my leave, I reminded her of this and she commented that I shouldn’t always be booking Friday off and it needs to be reviewed. I only work W/Th/F and prefer Fridays as I can go shopping when my son is at nursery. I just feel like this sick leave has been shadowed with stress about work- I’ve had at least one phone call every week (and always asked what my “plan” is and told I’m making it harder for myself) and I’ve received several emails every week. I’m not even sure of the purpose of this email but I don’t know where else to vent. Prior to this bereavement, my manager has always supported me, letting me use leave at short notice to attend hospital appointments with dad, etc. But it feels everything has changed since I’ve admitted I’m not coping. So I guess I’m wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation? I don’t want things to get difficult at work, I love my job and I imagine all this stress is just a blip which I’m getting support for. But right now I resent the idea of even having to think so much about work when all I want to do is cry about my dad. Thank you for reading.12 July 2020 at 8:01 pm #42184
Sorry you’re feeling so rubbish, my dad died when i was 22, even though that was 23 years ago it’s still occasionally hits me and i get upset.
If you are off sick with a dated sick note they shouldn’t have been contacting you throughout the leave they should only have contacted you to arrange a back to work meeting. If you still don’t feel ready to return to work go back to the gp and get another sicknote the whole situation is obviously stressing you out and you are going to end up making yourself ill.
If you are going to attend the meeting maybe suggest you start by coming back and doing half days for the first couple of weeks before returning to normal hours and if you think you are going to get really upset ask if you can have a trusted work collegue in with you as support.