July 19, 2018

Working despite grief

In life crises, it's often difficult to fulfill professional duties. But how much space should grief and anguish take up in the job?

People handle crises differently. Some talk. Others shut themselves away from the world. Some act as if they are paralyzed, while others immerse themselves in work so that they at least have some temporary relief from their situation.

But just how much space should and may personal grief take up at the workplace? Employees may take paid leave if a close relative dies. However, the loss of a friend, negative medical diagnoses, and painful separations are not sufficient reasons to stay at home.

The last resort: Talk with your boss

But what can you do when the crisis extinguishes all your vigor and consumes all your waking thoughts? – In cases such as this, people who are affected should talk with their boss and describe their situation in a matter-of-fact manner. If productive work is impossible, it may be in the company’s best interests to allow the employee to take some leave. And good bosses know that the human touch at the right moment promotes a good working climate.

However, employees should consider this step carefully: Since in retrospect people who have been affected by life crises report just how important normality, acknowledgment, and regulated procedures in their job were for them. The stricter the separation between job and private life the better. This also means changing clothes after work and drawing clear lines between work and leisure communication. People who are affected should also develop strategies to enable them to handle their feelings. After all, if you suppress your feeling you cannot process them. Short walks create space for feelings and also provide some new food for thought.