Today was my first day back to work since Kevin died. Kev died on the 29th of March 2015, almost a month ago.
I spent all day yesterday worrying about whether I could do it, go back to work – just walk through the door, sit at my desk and function. I arranged with my manager to start early, and since I only worked for half a day, I left over the lunch hour. Fairly low key on the surface but incredibly difficult for me.
In my mind I have my return to work as indicative of all sorts of things – that I am ready to resume my life, or that I am moving forward, or that things can be normal again. The truth is none of that applies here. I am not ready to move forward or to resume my life or to be anywhere near normal. I am so incredibly sad and completely consumed by the pain of loss. This emotion is not easily hidden and consequently, the return to work poses challenges.
My workplace is quite large, over 1,000 people work in the building. I’ve been around for more than a decade so I know a great many and recognize even more. It is quite awkward after a death, some people feel compelled to offer their sympathies, others are so uncomfortable they will go out of their way to avoid contact. (That’s me trying to project how others may feel – then there is me.) I know how I feel, I feel like my physical being is larger than life, that everyone sees me wherever I go, there’s no hiding, that my sorrow is palpable. I sense that my grief is the topic of meaningless conversation for some – an observational thing, while others are embarrassed for me, and yet others strongly empathize with my situation. I worry that one kindly word from someone will result in tears or, worse yet, sobbing.
I put in my first half day and cried only once while at work. Mind you, I only saw about five people that I knew. I had timed my arrival and departure to minimize social interaction and it worked. The drive home was the hard part, since I realized that I was going home to an empty house, and that there would be no “how was the first day back?” from my husband because he’s gone forever. I had emails from some of my friends, my sister, coworkers, text messages from my son, my daughter called and my sister-in-law phoned me all to do check in as the day progressed. Seems silly that my going back to work would be a cause for concern but it was. I guess it is apparent to those who know me that while my outer shell is intact, my inner being is completely messed up.
I figure I accomplished half of what I needed to do today. I drove to and entered my workplace which was part of the goal. The other part is to ease back into interactions with my coworkers and clients. I suspect that this transition will be rocky since I don’t know from one day to the next what my emotional capacity is. There will be many more firsts as I walk this path. I am lonely but not alone, but at this point all I feel is the loneliness of loss.