After a loved one passes away, one of the first things most people will do is send an email to their manager and/or HR director informing them of the situation and requesting bereavement PTO. This will inevitably lead to a few of your coworker learning of your loss, or at least that you had a “family emergency.” Knowing that some or all of your coworkers are aware of the situation can make returning to work difficult.

Going back to work generally presents one of two problems: wanting to return to regular routine and not being able to focus on work.

Those who fall into the first category will struggle to answer questions like, “how are you doing?” Having to discuss the loss again and again with separate coworkers and constantly hear, “I’m sorry for your loss” can grow tiresome. All you want to do is return to the daily grind like nothing ever happened, but everyone keeps bringing it up.

The issue this group of people needs to be on the lookout for is suppressing and bottling up emotions. Getting back to normal routines can be helpful, but it’s also really easy to ignore what you’re feeling and not truly process the emotions.

The second group of people may not want to be a work at all. To them, the thought of having to be away from home and family is incredibly unpleasant. Doing work-related tasks and having to put on a happy face for coworkers and clients is the last thing they want to do. No matter how much they might want to move on, thoughts of their loved one are still on their mind.

Dealing with lack of focus after a loss is expected for a certain period of time. However, if the problem continues to persist, it might be time to consider professional help. Experiencing a loss incredibly hard, and there’s no shame in talking with a grief consoler or psychiatrist.