A bereaved mom just a month into this journey shared that she feels bad for not being able to handle grief better at work.
She wants to be professional, do her job well and shield unsuspecting coworkers and clients from her tears.
Her question was (slightly expanded):
Does anyone have practical suggestions for how to handle the unpredictable, overwhelming, undeniable waves of grief that come out of nowhere and demand attention regardless of how convenient it might be at that moment?
Here’s my reply (also expanded):
Don’t waste what limited energy you have in these early, especially hard days on beating yourself up! There’s no such thing as a “standard for grieving” even though there may be someone here or there that tries to impose one. Don’t expect too much from yourself.
In the early days, it took every ounce of energy I had to just make it through each day I couldn’t waste any blaming myself for what I might have “gotten wrong”.
Try to find a quiet spot (if possible) or at least a focal point in the room or rooms you work in most often so you can rest your eyes and focus your breathing/thoughts when the inconvenient waves sweep over you.
Often just making a plan is all a heart needs to regain control. As you shift your mental and physical focus, your body will tend to follow.
The little 5-4-3-2-1 centering exercise for anxiety works for nearly any strong emotion.
I wore a necklace or carried a memento in my pocket every day for years. I still do that when I know I’m going into a stressful place. I could reach in (or up), take hold of that physical object and it helped me breathe, slow my heart rate and lasso my emotional response.
Finally, if a tear falls, let it.
Don’t apologize or make it bigger (you can briefly mention you’ve lost a child-if appropriate and the person doesn’t know), wipe it off (or not) and go on.
I’ve found most people follow my lead.
I am so very sorry you even have to figure this out.
It’s not something any parent should have to do.
However you manage is really OK.
I promise. ❤
***If YOU have hints, tips, wisdom or encouragement for other bereaved parents who work AND grieve, please comment! It is such a blessing to hear that another heart has fought this particular battle and is reaching out. ***