Going back to work

Going back to work after suffering the loss of a baby can be another daunting task you are facing. We hope that these tips, submitted by real women who have been there, can help you face it with strength and courage.
If you have advice you’d like to add, please send it to april@facesofloss.com, with ‘Going Back to Work’ in the subject line. Thanks!

Take all the time you need/can afford to.
Rushing back to work before you are ready because you feel obligated is not going to be good for anyone.

  • I went back after 2 weeks but I think that was too soon. I would say at least a month, give yourselves time to mourn before having to deal with the work force again. –  Stacy
  • Hubby went back to work after 2 weeks, I was still healing and trying to cope with the loss and didn’t go back to work for 3 months….  My advice is take all the time you need! – Ivy
  • There’s no right or wrong time. Time is needed to get through the physical symptoms and the emotional is ongoing recovery. Keeping busy does help. – Gina
  • Do it in your own time…. Never be pushed into it! No one knows the pain you feel. – Tracy
  • My husband took 2 full weeks off and still takes a day off here and there. He’s just taking it as it comes and doing what feels comfortable. I’m a SAHM so it wasn’t something I had to face, just getting back into the daily routine with my daughter. – Sara
  • For some people going back is the right thing to do – and if that’s you, don’t feel bad about it. – Beth
  • Take your time. If you can function again with everyday things like shopping, washing, cooking and they aren’t scary anymore then maybe you could face work again. – Leanne

  • I think most people forget you still have to recover physically…you still just had a baby! I took almost my full maternity leave, 3 months, because grief drains your energy and ability to heal quickly…It was important to me to have time where I didn’t have to “hold it together” but got time to just “be” in my grief full time. –Mary
  • I took a week and a half off after my loss at 14 weeks. It wasn’t enough time. I was emotional, broken, angry and not ready for work. Please, take the time you need to heal, work will find a way to be okay. You need to get better. It was a big regret of mine. – Michelle


If you are able to, go back slowly.
Start back on a Wednesday or Thursday. That way you’ll only have a short week to face when you start.

  • I would recommend taking it slowly, step by step. Going in for a meeting, then do half-day for a week, perhaps longer. I went back to work 3 months after my loss and am only now getting my energy back 5 months after my loss. – Anna Lísa
  • Go slowly…work a few hours at first and let someone in the office know the plan so that if you leave earlier they know why. I went back three weeks after and I feel like it was too soon for me..but everyone is different. – Kelly
  • I went in 2 days before hand to see my office coworkers and just make an appearance. I also started on a Thurs, so I only had to deal with a two day work week. The biggest thing was that I felt so dazed & out of it. I had a lot of problems with concentration and being able to multitask. – Marcia
  • I went back one week after the loss of Aiden at 24 weeks. It was too soon so I took another week off after that. I suggest starting back slowly, maybe a half day first. I was lucky to have really supportive co-workers. – Larisa
  • I started by going back for a 2 day week. It was helpful to have co-workers visit me at home. It was also suggested that I stop in to the office before starting back. – Jessica


Know that the first day is the worst day.
For many of us, just getting into the building is the hardest obstacle to overcome.

  • (Going back to work) was the next step in my healing. It was something I needed to do to start the road back to being me. When I was trying to decide if I should go back to work yet, I realized that if I went back that day or the next week or month the first day would be hard. Take the time that you need only you will know when the time is right. – Kim
  • I felt pretty confident driving to work on my first day back. But once I got to the parking lot I started to panic. I called one of my co-workers and she came out to walk in with me. Once I got in the building, it wasn’t so bad. – April
  • I went back after 2 weeks … However I spent hours just moving piles on my desk because I couldn’t focus. – Trisha


Have an escape plan.
Talk with your boss and let them know that you may need to leave early if things become too overwhelming.

  • I waited two weeks, and then gave myself permission (and was given official permission) to leave when I had to leave the rest of the month. In fact, I still, 2.5 months later, have really hard days, and just go when I need to. I left this morning after only 20 minutes, in fact, and I don’t feel bad about it. Thankfully (so far) my co-workers have been very understanding, although pretty quiet about my loss. – Amy
  • I gave myself a three cry limit. I knew that I’d probably cry at work from time to time, but decided that if I cried three times then it was time to go home. I also go outside for a walk if I feel like I’m starting to get overwhelmed. It always helps. – April
  • My boss is letting me come and go as I need and that is really helpful. I like to talk about my son so talking with coworkers is helping. It is like free therapy for me. If you go back and realize you can’t be there, then ask to take off a little more time. You will know what is best for you. – Hannah
  • I think the nicest thing that was done before my return to work was… I sent out an email to all colleges in the office letting them know that I was returning and the date. I thanked them for their support and encouragement. I also indicated in the message that my emotions are still very high, to please be patient with me and outlined my schedule. They were very kind and supportive upon my return. I returned 6 weeks after our son, the most difficult thing was when people called that did not know asked how the new baby was. – Carla


Be prepared for people to say “the wrong thing” or nothing at all.
Some people will inevitably say things that hurt you. But just know that they mean well. Other people will say nothing at all because they don’t know what to say. If you work at a large company, some people may not have even heard about what happened.

  • One of the (many) hard parts is learning to cope with people saying the wrong things, or saying nothing at all. Sometimes I cannot believe what people say or do. My best way of dealing with it is reminding myself that (most) people mean well, and even if it sounds wrong, at least they are trying. – Anna Lísa
  • Be prepared for someone to have missed the news of your loss and ask how your baby is doing.  It’s a scary thing to face, but I found that those that asked had only the best intentions.  After answering the questions though, maybe take a walk or step away for a few minutes to deal with your emotions, if possible. – Nicole
  • Hubby took 2 weeks. I took 3 months due to complications after delivery. Take all the time you need. I found people’s questions & comments to be the worst part of going back. Some are thoughtless & uncaring…you definitely find out who cares about you & who is sincere. – Michele
  • My advise: don’t push yourself. Take as much time as you need. Cry when you need to, it’s okay… They may not know exactly how to understand or comfort you, so bear with them too. I had to tell myself most of the time they just don’t know what to say or do, so I realized that them just being there, in my presence, meant a lot to me. – Natalie
  • I only took 2 and a half days. The best thing for me was being very open about everything with my coworkers. They were some of my biggest supporters and I had just started the job 2 weeks before. I found the more I talk about my baby, the better able to cope I was. – Leah
  • I expected people to ignore me when I went back. I just didn’t expect it to hurt so much when they did. I had several comments made that hurt. I had to try and remember that they just didn’t know any better. I wouldn’t have known what to say to anyone before I lost Nathan. – Crystal
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