Today I have a reason to be proud of myself, I overcame a huge milestone this week and went to visit work for the first time since we lost Avery.
Now, to some it may not seem like a big thing, some may of even found going back to work easy, but not me! I work in a BIG head office and have a lot of close relationships there – it’s full of people who rubbed my belly during pregnancy and wanted daily updates, and it’s where I was when I thought “I haven’t felt my baby kick all day today”.
I started working from home last week (week 5 since she passed) and that was overwhelming enough, I have quite a big responsibility job and number of areas to manage. My manager, Sarah, is not only my boss but a friend and she has experienced great loss herself so I’ve found comfort in speaking to her and one thing she kept saying to me was “There’s no pressure to come back to work at all, but you need to come into the office and get that bit over with – the longer you leave it the harder it will be” and as the days went by, I started to realise she was probably right, as usual!
On Tuesday, I woke up shattered after a disturbed sleep, and Sarah text me saying the office was quiet and to come in for a coffee if I fancied it. I didn’t reply as I didn’t want to promise anything, but when it got to about 11am, I thought ‘start getting ready and see how you feel’ so that’s what I did. I got ready, got in the car, put some motivational music on blast and drove without stopping to think!
After 20 minutes of sitting in the car park I thought ‘FUCK IT’ and threw myself out of the car (literally), I genuinely don’t remember making it from my car to the top floor of the office building, I walked so fast and didn’t look up once – I’m pretty sure about 3 people said hi to me and I shot past them – it’s quite funny looking back now. Once I made it to my desk I was shaking like a leaf, but was instantly relieved to see my team!
Yes, there were tears, and I pretty much hid myself in the corner of the desks so people didn’t see me – but I did it, and most importantly, I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For most people like myself, your work team are an extension of your family and whilst you may worry you’ll be treated like a wounded soldier, they are just so happy to see you! I even ended up curling over in laughter at one point doing our Secret Santa which they’d been saving for me coming in.
Tips to ease you back into work after losing a child
- Practice some breathing exercises before you go in, I forgot to breath and ended up shaking uncontrollably as a result!
- Don’t tell too many people that you’re going in, I found this really useful as nobody was waiting for me outside so it wasn’t as much of a scene, and the expressions of happiness and surprise when you walk in make it really worthwhile.
- Before you go, look at some pictures (if you have any) of you with your team – this really helped me remember how much fun I have with them and how much I miss them. The kind of photos which helped me ….
- Avoid going in at a peak time – I went at lunch so as I walked in, everybody was walking out for the lunch van.
- Go on a quiet day.
- Make the most of it, once you’ve calmed down you’ll have the courage to see people, so see as many as you can while you’re being strong.
- Get someone to clear your desk in advance – I noticed my maternity plan on my desk and it was like receiving a knife to the chest!
- Most of all, DONT BE ASHAMED TO CRY – Work is not the kind of place you would normally let out your emotions, but people understand so don’t put off work because you’re worried about being a blubbering mess in front of them, because it’s going to happen, and that’s ok!
Do it when it’s right for you, but just remember that nothing is ever bad as you build up in your head. The longer you leave things the more your imagination will build up a horror story in your head. Take control of your thoughts and just get in the car like I did – it really does feel good once you’ve done it!
One day at a time .. XO Nicole