‘You never stop grieving’: Why bereaved parents need more than two weeks off work

Carrie thought she was ready to go back to work four weeks after the death of Siobhán, the daughter she and her husband lost to brain cancer at seven months old. But, in reality, she wasn’t. “I really struggled to cope,” she says. “I was a teacher and there was nowhere to hide: I had to deal with children, parents and colleagues all day, every day. There was no downtime and no office for me to retreat to.”

Returning to work just added to her trauma. “I had to put on a false face, which was exhausting. All sorts of things triggered my grief during the day, but I had to bottle everything up,” she says. “I had to contain and condense my grief into predetermined time slots when I was at home. As a parent who has lost a child, you never stop grieving, but I don’t think that was good for me in the short or long term.”

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