Work Hurts

I’ll be glad when the week ends.I didn’t anticipate that work would be easy, but it has been more of a strain than I thought. Just getting there each morning has seemed a major achievement. This morning two occasional workers came in. Unknowing of my situation, one of them began to talk about how dental problems could lead to dementia. They both laughed and expressed horror. I sat mute and tried not to cry. It felt like they were being disrespectful of Mother. They weren’t, but that’s how it felt. I was reminded of Maria’s comment about wearing black to remind others that you might not be quite normal, maybe a bit touchy, a bit vacant. I wanted an armband.
Correction: I want an armband.
By the afternoon, my head was thumping. It was one of those rare days when I had to spend the whole day in the one workplace. I have several part time jobs, and the joy of that is a certain amount of freedom and variety in my days. The boss in this workplace decided it was time for a long meeting. She had held back she said because of Mother’s death, only she didn’t say death and she didn’t mention Mother. Again it felt disrespectful and also as though as far as she was concerned it was a closed episode. Unimportant. She didn’t give me an agenda. Just began a very long meeting. I began to hate her very early on. Nothing she said seemed very important. That’s the trouble with death, the things people bang on about at work seem pretty trivial. We live, we die. If we are lucky, we love and are loved. Bar charts and data are just time fillers. Targets, an irrelevance. Paperwork, a control mechanism. Lots of running around to go nowhere.
Give me flowers, MasterB, a bike ride, the sun’s warmth, a memory of Mother. These things matter. I am so close to resigning.


22 thoughts on “Work Hurts

  1. It is even harder when the other people haven’t lost someone close. I’ve had people indicate that it’s been 4 months since Gpa died. I don’t bother trying to explain. Yes, it’s been 4 months. I end the conversation and excuse myself.

    Remember to breathe, and that there are others ‘out there’, like myself that are wanting only the best for you.

  2. “Give me flowers, MasterB, a bike ride, the sun’s warmth, a memory of Mother.”– sounds like a perfect recipe because it’s the correct size for right now. Plus the black armband. It will be understood or at least give pause to others.

    Perhaps a leave of absence from work is in order. Good advice I’ve been given is to not make large life decisions/changes during a difficult time. I can hear that you need a break, Isobel–unfortunately, you’re the only one who can give it to you. Mourning takes up a lot of emotional and mental space….

    You’re in my thoughts today, as every day.

    • Phrases used in today’s meeting didn’t lead me to suppose that the coming weeks will hold understanding. Rather, it seemed I should be grateful that the deluge of emails was held back for a few days. Do I really want to work somewhere like this?

      • You have mentioned your dissatisfaction before about being in the office. However, I would still err on the side of making no big decisions right now. You can always quit in a month…. (A long time ago, I took 3 months off work, just left cold after announcing my intention.)

        It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, including me, but especially people who don’t have your interests at heart. Folks at work are on a different plane from people who have large life events unfolding in their faces.

        Trust yourself, Isobel, that you know what you need right now, this minute: quiet, time with MasterB, and time to wander among the memories of your Mother.

  3. Dearest isobel, allow yourself to be quiet, taking care of you, Master B and your very personal world. Allow you to go over and over again to your Mother. to the memories that come to you, And, avoid taking anything said by others as personal. It’s other people’s world, not yours. We all live in our personal worlds and are much too often unaware of other’s world. WEhwen one’s world griefs acivitiy in other’s worlds may hurt. Don’t take this personally.
    Much love to you, Isobel.

  4. Grief “colors” everything going on around us and the only thing that blows the cobwebs away is time. I remember wondering when I would “get over” losing my father then my mother but of course the answer is never. You don’t “get over” loss – you just learn to cope with it and move on somehow. Other people (especially those who have no idea what it’s like to lose someone) apparently believe this process should be over in the blink of an eye. We know better. Just allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. A leave of absence wouldn’t be such a bad idea if that’s a possibility or finding another part-time job – hopefully with a more caring bunch of co-workers.

    Love and hugs, Pam

  5. It is so unfortunate that we don’t have the year of mourning any more. There really does need to be a time when people are allowed some slack to lick their wounds and heal. I found that I needed to be able to do things on my time – when I had the energy and the spirit to do it, not when others needed me to do it. I’m confident you will get through it, it is just so very, very hard. And your loss is still so fresh. Do lots of things to comfort yourself.

  6. Some people will never get it. I once had a teacher who bragged that he didn’t miss a day of work when his son or wife died. I was stunned and terrified of him. I’m with you, most of the details in life aren’t worth the fuss: word deadlines, spreadsheets,and all that hoopla. Love and be loved–that matters. Thinking of you. And give MasterB a cuddle for me.

  7. Don’t resign. Take some time. The loss of someone close does take time. When that someone is a mum that you have been with on that final journey it is going to take ages. In my opinion, you are trying to return to ‘normality’ too soon. Because you are ‘being normal’ those around will assume you are fine & they can be normal. NO! NO! NO1. In their defense they are taking their mark from you. Take some time off so that you can cry, shout, scream, cycle, garden, sit. It is allowed you know. It is expected. xx

    • “Because you are ‘being normal’ those around will assume you are fine & they can be normal. NO! NO!”
      Trouble is you have to be ‘normal’ a lot of the time. The cost is greater than most imagine.

  8. There are so many great words of advice here Isobel that I don’t think I could think of something more. I love Laurel’s last paragraph. I always try to listen to my heart, like Laurel says, “trust yourself”. Nobody knows you better than you Isobel and in your heart you know what you have to do or not do. Just know that I am thinking of you. I quit work to take care of my Mom in her final 5 months. She died in August and I lost my heart cat Holly the next month to cancer too. I didn’t go back to work for 18 months. I would have been useless at the job I had at the time. Hugs to you Isobel.

  9. lots of good thoughts here, Isobel, so i won’t repeat what others have said. and yet at a time such as this, i can imagine that it does the soul good to hear the words that are said by those who understand because they are walking this road, too.
    when my Dad passed away almost 14 years ago, it was an eye-opener to discover that there are two kinds of sympathy cards. while all of them were written in kindness and i appreciated every one of them, the ones written by those who had lost a close loved one themselves were the ones that had an additional depth of comfort. not sure if that makes sense.
    and going back to work – i went through the motions, but i could not join the others for lunch breaks for many months. the jokes and the latest stories and fashions and new movies and sports results were exhausting in those early days. grief is a strange shadow. it follows us, and sometimes it overwhelms us, and it can make it difficult to focus or make decisions. and yet with time, it is also true that the pain of loss gives way to gratefulness for memories.
    in the meantime, i wholeheartedly agree with jfb57’s suggestion to give yourself time before finalizing your decision about resigning at work. do take care!

    • A doctor friend has advised me to go to my GP and get signed off. I am hesitating, but I think she is probably right.
      My boss has lost both parents and was back at work very quickly after her father died. True, she wasn’t anywhere near as a involved in his care as I was with Mother’s, but I find her as incomprehensible as she seems to find me.
      There is a difference between taking people’s awkwardness and indifference personally and being put under pressure at work to catch up on things missed because of Mother’s illness and death, and to commit to new projects. Every time I feel I have managed to create a little space in my life to allow me to grieve, a new email, a new demand arrives.
      And that inability you describe to share the work jokes and so on is very familiar. It is also isolating.

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