WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JAN. 09, 2015
version 2, draft 2

How to Get Through Work in Times of Tragedy

A tragedy such as the loss of a loved one, an unexpected medical diagnosis, an act of God or a catastrophe in your community can upset your day-to-day life and affect your work. Unfortunately, work does not stop to let you deal with the tragedy. You can get a few days off work, but you can never get enough time to deal with the tragedy, as it is a continuous process. You must learn to manage yourself in the workplace and deal with the pressures of work. Finding a balance may be tricky but with patience and support from those around you, you can remain productive.

Communicate your Needs

Everybody copes with tragedy differently. You may find that you enjoy routine or desire a different environment or a challenge that does not remind you of the tragedy. Talk to your boss about your preferences and come up with a way to ensure you contribute to the team without upsetting yourself emotionally. If you find certain tasks uncomfortable, ask your boss to assign you different tasks until you are strong enough to resume your duties. For example, if people’s attention makes you uncomfortable, request that they do not assign you to make presentations.

Take your Time

A tragedy affects your ability to think rationally while at work. So, you may send a quotation with errors or send an email to the wrong person. Before you act on anything, take your time, and if you are working on a deadline, ask a colleague to assist you ensure you do the right thing. If time allows, delay your response. For example, if you are supposed to review a report, make notes and then look over your notes the next day to ensure you give substantial feedback.

Control the Tone

In a healthy working environment, colleagues will acknowledge the situation and may offer to assist you. However, this can upset you especially if they keep asking if you are okay or handle you delicately. Once you resume work, talk to your boss and discuss your comfort level concerning the tragedy. For example, ask your boss to communicate to your colleagues that you would prefer if they let you resume your regular duties without talking about the tragedy, and let you bring up the topic in your own time. Additionally, create an avenue that your colleagues can use to reach out to you, for example, via personal mail or personal notes and you can get back to them in your own time.

Do not Feel Guilty

As you strive to get your life on track after a tragedy, you may find yourself overwhelmed by work or lagging behind. Do not feel guilty or over explain yourself. For example, if you need to take a break, leave a note indicating that you will be out for an hour. Take a walk to relieve your mind and cry if necessary then resume work. Understand that it is okay to take days off especially if you need to spend time with loved ones. Talk this over with your boss, and plan to catch up on work in your own time.

In times of tragedy, life gets hard and normal life seems impossible. However, work can help you get a bit of your life back to normal. If you enjoy your work, you can use it as an escape for a few hours each day as you deal with the aftermath of the tragedy.

 

Image Source: Cobaltpm

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