Advice column: I lost a relative, and I’m not getting support
Dear Ash

Woman alone at computer cryingI suffered a close family bereavement a few months back, but as I was working from home, I was kind of pushed back into work earlier than I would have liked. I now seem to be feeling a bit overwhelmed and do not have any motivation to do my job, but I have impending deadlines. I’ve tried talking to my manager but there seems to be a distinct lack of sympathy; she said that I was not the only one that had lost a family member during the pandemic and felt I needed to get myself together! There are others who seem to be coping quite well in the team and this makes me even more of a failure. I can’t afford to lose my job and this fills me with greater anxiety. I’m not sure how I can try to improve the situation.

Ash replies

First, I am really sorry for your loss. The pandemic has been overwhelming for many of us, but a bereavement is likely to have been even more difficult, especially in light of the lockdown restrictions. Your manager’s lack of sympathy is hard to believe in the current circumstances. We are going through one of the most challenging events in our lifetime and everyone inevitably copes in different ways. There is no standard form of grieving and you are not a failure in any sense.

I suggest you try and see if you can speak to another senior manager in your firm, as they may hopefully have a different, more sympathetic perspective on things. I appreciate that financial pressures may be playing on your mind too, but if you don’t seek help now then you may end up suffering burnout and have to stop working in any case. Therefore it is better that you try to take some control back now.

I suggest also that you talk to your GP. It may be that your GP could suggest you are signed off work for a couple of weeks initially. Make sure to ask specifically about counselling and support to help with your bereavement. It may also help to contact CRUSE (a bereavement care organisation), as they have a helpful helpline number for people who have suffered loss just like you.

If there is one key positive message to come out of this pandemic, it is the need for us all to look after ourselves. Therefore please take care of yourself and stay safe.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to them via the editor. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3).

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