Returning To Work After A Loved One’s Death

 In Health, MOM

I’ve been away from Walking on Mom for a long time. Though we had called it a soft launch, I had every intention of writing through the site’s bugs, which turned out to be few. I was writing through my vacation back in the United States, through wedding planning, even up to the big day itself.

Shortly after our ceremony, one of the most beautiful and exciting days of my life, things began to turn grim. I shifted the blog to the back burner.

First, for minor inconveniences — my husband returned back to Switzerland so caring for the girls alone while dealing with the ups and downs of life on the road took all of my time and energy.

Then, my mom’s illnesses took a devastating turn.

I took the girls back to Switzerland and returned to Michigan to be with my mom, care for her dogs, be another ear around doctors and nurses and specialists, and sadly, devastatingly, to say goodbye and help with her estate.

I was in Michigan for nearly four months – two for vacation and two in mourning. My mom died in late September and in one of the most difficult phases of my life, my sister and I leaned on each and gleaned support from our dad and countless people in our respective circles.

In a month’s time we made her final arrangements, found homes for her dogs, cleared out her belongings, donated what we did not keep or sell. We sold her home and her car. Answered questions, asked a million more. Met with lawyers, tax advisers, researched finance regulations and somewhere in there tried to find time to eat and sleep and spend time “not” doing and just being.

Somewhere amid the heartache of memories and the trying to move forward, I thought about the blog.

Walking on Mom began as hope for those living in the wake of postpartum mood issues. Yet as I looked over my post ideas, each felt shallow. When I did find the will to write, it was dark and dreary and blanketed in sadness — more a journal than anything useful for anyone else.

I could see no way around this and so the blog sat.

While I absolutely needed the time with no commitments hanging over me, and I’m grateful for it, it took some time to remember this one key point. I am not alone. There are other mothers who have suffered the loss of their own mom. No one expects me to be someone I’m not and now I am also a woman in grief.

Some women are stay-at-home moms wondering how they will be able to care for their children while their own hearts are breaking. Some may worry they will slip back into depression or anxiety or worsen symptoms they are already struggling with. Others have to quickly jump back into a job that demands 100 percent presence of mind when they are barely present for themselves.

I found these websites to have a nice roundup of ideas for facing work after losing someone you love.

American Hospice has some good, boots-on-the-ground, recommendations for preparing to enter the office after you’ve lost someone close to you.

This touching article that quotes Jason Garner, former CEO of Live Nation’s Global Music, who lost his mother to stomach cancer clarifies the emotional mess of grief beautifully.

“Death really is an invitation to open our hearts, to experience the feelings of pain and grief, and then to honor our loved ones by going back into the world with an open heart to do our work with an increased awareness and compassion for our needs and the needs of others,” Garner said.

One crucial allowance I made for myself was to remember mindfulness — to pay attention to my emotions (believe it or not, it’s not just sadness) and not judge them or try to stuff them away. I watch, see what one feeling or the next is doing to my body, my thoughts, my actions. I allow myself to feel whatever feeling washes over, and sometimes slams into, me and I don’t try to push it away. Sure, I may have to hold it at bay for a few minutes while I get to a place where I can let tears rip, or scream into or punch a pillow. But I don’t expect more of myself than what I can do each day, each moment.

I’ll keep walking, with love and support and my own pace, yielding sometimes less than stellar results. But sometimes good. Great, even. I hope to write again, to share my thoughts and offer stories and tips to fellow moms doing their best to get through each day, to make a valued life for themselves and their families.

My stories may, from time to time, be tinted by mourning; I may not write the same way I expected I would when I imagined this project. How could I when I’m no longer the same person? I can only offer who I am, my truth. And so I hope you’ll join me, once again, for stories that will help inspire you, make you laugh, and think and lift you up.

Welcome back, from one mom walking on, to another.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Beth Henry

    Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for the sorrow and loss you have experienced.

  • Nancy

    Nicely written, Tara. Thanks for your transparency and for sharing your grief to help others find a way through their maze of heartache. ~ Love you, Nancy

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