Back to Work After Loss

January 24, 2023

As I walk back into work, the first time since burying my mother, I feel different. In truth, I know it’s deeper and much more complex than that. I feel different because I am different. 

I hope everyone accepts this new version of me. I hope my pain doesn’t make them uncomfortable, though I’m quickly learning it usually does. 

My brokenness is noticeable. But they couldn’t possibly understand the intensity of my grief. They couldn’t possibly comprehend that I’m terrified I’ll never be whole again. That I’ve lost pieces of myself that will leave permanent holes and debilitating gaps. That I’ve experienced the kind of loss that changes everything. 

I wonder if I even belong here anymore— if I belong anywhere. It’s like my existence has been challenged since losing the woman that gave me life. Like suddenly things no longer fit the way they once did. Like suddenly I’m staring at a stranger, both in the mirror and in the faces of those around me. Like I’m in foreign territory, both in my own body and out in the world. 

Everything feels changed and different. 

I sit at my desk and before beginning any work, I cry. In a matter of weeks I’ve been thrown back into the responsibilities of my career, while also holding the consequential responsibilities of the death of a parent. Suddenly I’m in charge of both work and wills. Each on their own a tremendous weight, but together, crippling. 

I’m not ready to be here, though I’m not sure I’ll ever be. It will take awhile to live again, right now simply breathing and getting out of bed are a challenge. For now I push through and I pretend. I work through the schedule and the to-do’s, knowing I need to become acquainted with this new person and life I’m left with. 

I’ll need to learn how to live without feeling whole. I’ll need to learn to live with the brokenness and still the hope for what lies ahead. I’ll need to learn to live simultaneously being grateful for the future and also terrified of it because I know it doesn’t include someone irreplaceable. 

So I sit at this desk knowing I’ll need to get used to the same girl I’m asking my coworkers to get used to, this version of me, the one that carries the invisible weight of grief. 

I guess together we’ll give grace and patience to this new me— together we’ll accept and welcome her brokenness. One day at a time. 

xox, Chels 

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A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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