Experiencing a loss then returning to work

On September 6, 2018 I lost my mother to a sudden heart attack. She was 66 years old.

I am writing a post for two reasons: personal therapy and for anyone who might be going through the same thing.

I find it comforting when other people would talk about losses they experienced. They always quickly apologize about making the conversation about them, but I always encourag them to go on. It's comforting to hear that death is a part of life and that what I am going through is completely normal.

However I am experiencing that the emotions of personal interactions at work are different than other interactions. Because at work, not only does life move on, but life never stopped. Re-engaging with that current can go wrong if not taken with great care.

I've found that work tends to ask for one to work at the same capacity previous to a life changing event. For me, I've chosen to:

  1. Not be upset with work/my boss for asking that of me.
    I've put myself in their shoes. There is alot of work to get done and avoiding interuptions in that flow of work is only natural.
  2. Communicate when I just can't and need a moment to slow down.

Taking care of yourself especially after a loss is what is best for both you and work. For me, I've chosen to work more on my own work priorities. Which is writing code and solving problems. Paying down some technical debt that has been bothering me through infrastructure improvements. It might not be "top priority" work, but at least it's work.

Often times during a working day there is a category of "not fun" tasks that any person has to tackle. I try to only attempt that category of problems when I'm feeling at my best. When something from the "not fun" category is time sensitive or mission critical, I ask for help. My team has been there for me eager and willing to pitch in, and your team will probably be there for you too.

Then there are side projects. I have been trying to keep a cadance with my side projects. My goal is to release a piece of content once a week for each project. I've found that using that same approach I use at work with side project to be useful.

Instead of sticking to my previous schedule, I release content "when it's done." I try tackling housekeeping items I normally don't have time for when I'm in my normal rythym. Which is something like photoshoping art assets or sending emails checking in on things.

If you have an audience waiting on your content, they can wait a little longer. There is asimilar contract there as a work contract. You'll probably produce lower quality content if you try to force it. I would rather keep the content at the same quality but delayed, than to have a dip in quality in my content streams.

I hope this helps anyone that might be going through something similar. Hit me up at twitter.com/hankyates if you have anything you would like to add or just talk about.