There Needs to Be More Time to Balance Grief and Work


There Needs to Be More Time to Balance Grief and Work


Yesterday was Mom's birthday. She would have been 78 years-old. She missed it by three weeks.

It was a very hard day for me. I did have to go to work since I haven't any paid time off left beyond what I have scheduled to bury her.

I don't feel as though I have had any real time to mourn. The three days of bereavement leave you get only covers the funeral planning and the actual event. There's no time for any actual mourning. Not in our society. I admit I haven't spent any time researching other countries but--considering how much better they are at all other forms of leave--I have to assume that bereavement is also something they do better than we do.

When my husband died, I had three days and then took vacation too. I was off for two weeks, which still wasn't really enough, but I needed it. This time around, for my mother, it was just the three days. I need more time.

We have to do better. We need to BE better. Grieving is a lengthy process. Everyone's process is different, but I can pretty much guarantee that for the loss of an immediate family member three days isn't nearly enough time. For one thing, you're still in shock. You have no idea which end is up. You won't even remember those days clearly--planning the funeral, getting through the visitation, and the funeral itself. And that's all you get. Three days to be in shock. No days to actually mourn. No time to adjust.

For another, how the bloody hell are you supposed to function at work when you can barely breathe or think? You can't be productive. You can barely get out of bed. Maybe you can compartmentalize. Maybe that's something you are good at, and it is a way to get through the day. But it isn't healthy. Not at all.

The stress of caring for your loved one--maybe for years--has already messed with your body. Trust me these 20+ pounds did not come out of nowhere. They are the "gift" of all that cortisol running through your system. A lovely little thing that helps us prepare for flight/fight by holding on to every bit of energy and food it can. And it makes you want to eat more. Double whammy. How do you reduce cortisol production? Reduce stress. Yeah. Right. Sure.

  • Grief = Stress.
  • Stress = Cortisol Production
  • Cortisol Production = Weight Gain
  • Weight Gain = A1C Increase/Diabetes

And TA-DA! Welcome to my world.

Or least according to the CNP who I see for medical care. In May, I went in so I could get my asthma inhalers renewed. She ambushed me with an A1C test and then promptly told me I was diabetic. Uh-huh. So I said, "No, I am not going on meds right this minute." And I did some research. You don't diagnose diabetes with one A1C test. If you use that method at all, you need to do two. So in a couple of weeks I go back.

Given the stress of now losing my mother you can bet any sum of money that the second test is also going to be high. See, I haven't lost weight. I have monitored (but not changed) my diet, and I eat less sugar and carbs than the amount recommended for the basic 2000 calorie/day diet. So really, how much more can I do diet-wise? Yes, I need to exercise. But see previous comment about barely being able to get out of bed.

I am going to insist on a fasting glucose test.

The grief is not going to go--POOF!--away, but before I get on meds to manage A1C and agree that what is messing up my body is diabetes and not stress I am not going to blindly start popping pills.

I am going to grieve. I am going to find a way to grieve, but my stress level isn't going to evaporate overnight.

It would help if there was more time I could take off work.

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You accomplished so much while you worked and still made sure your mother's needs were always attended to. It was a wise move to wait before starting on a medication regimen while everything was so stressful.\r\nYou are so right that our society does not respect the complexity of grieving in the work world.\r\nI hope your stress levels reduce and your second test shows more improvement than you expected.\r\nThanks for continuing to share your story.