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Bereavement and work

(24 Posts)
Cabbie21 Wed 21-Apr-21 19:15:47

An acquaintance sadly lost her elderly mother just over a year ago. She had been her main carer, though carers also came in each day. The loss is huge, as practically all of her non- working time was spent caring for her mother.
This person was signed off work by her GP. Now, 12 months later, after consultation with Occupational Health, she has resigned, as she feels unable to go back to work. Her GP keeps signing her sick notes giving Bereavement as the reason she is not fit for work. She is not on any medication, nor has she been diagnosed with a mental health problem. She did have some counselling initially for six sessions.
This lady has two years to wait for her State Pension to start, so she is looking to claim Benefits and asked for my help as this is what I do for voluntary work.

Whilst I have every sympathy for her loss, I am wondering how long is reasonable to take to “ recover” sufficiently to get back to work. I have suggested more counselling, but it concerns me that she is unable to cope at this stage. I am trying to be supportive, not judgemental.

CafeAuLait Wed 21-Apr-21 23:33:38

For most people 12 months would be more than enough. Could your friend be experiencing complicated grief or some other anxiety that makes it hard to re-enter the workplace after having been a carer? I find it unlikely benefits will be assigned based on losing a parent 12 months ago alone. Maybe you could seek the advice of a social worker about what kind of supports can be accessed by your friend and what the criteria are for each?

Hithere Thu 22-Apr-21 00:26:29

There is no timeline in grieving a lost one.

However, this case sounds fishy.

She clearly needs counseling perhaps and medication

Calendargirl Thu 22-Apr-21 06:57:36

It sounds as though she doesn’t wish to return to work, after being off for a year. I imagine it’s been a real respite after working and caring for her mother, and she would rather that had taken her up to her state pension age.

But it doesn’t. If she can’t face her old job, she might have to look for something different for the next couple of years.

Cabbie21 Thu 22-Apr-21 08:26:20

Thank you. I agree, Calendargirl and Hithera. It is hard to avoid being critical, and I do understand that grieving has no time limit. I think she will struggle with no income for two years and may perhaps need to find a job of some sort to bridge the gap.

CafeAuLait Thu 22-Apr-21 08:54:31

Grief has no time limit but, if it's affecting your ability to live your normal life and return to work after 12 months, some additional support might be needed. Hopefully her GP will address this with her.

silverlining48 Thu 22-Apr-21 08:55:40

Could she not have a gradual return to work by slowly increasing her hours.

Ro60 Thu 22-Apr-21 09:06:35

Cabbie21 ? Hats off to you for caring. It does seem odd that the GP hasn't offered more appropriate support but at present everything seems to be a mess.
If she gives up her job then she just drops off the radar of being ...... - a human being, existing, - so sad.
I've been trying to get help for a friend & social services say she doesn't fit their criteria!
As an employer it's a difficult situation - damned if you do, danned if you don't! - persuade her to come back to work.
Work has helped me over bereavement & for the first few months it was a case of 'Put on a happy face'. Obviously it's not the same for eveyone.
Hope you come up with a solution.

rafichagran Thu 22-Apr-21 09:17:53

Has your friend got a occupational pension? Tell your friend to go on to the web site to see if she has any entitlement.
Sounds like she cannot cope at the moment.

CafeAuLait Thu 22-Apr-21 09:34:24

I know my husband found work a helpful distraction after our child died. I don't know how well I'd have coped going back after just a few weeks. Even now, quite a bit more than 12 months later, there are still many times my functioning is impacted but I do manage to do things when I need to. I was also surprised the GP hadn't offered more but maybe they have and it's been declined? My GP offers me support but I have never taken her up on it because I feel I muddle through. Complicated grief is a thing but it could be the friend has social anxiety or PTSD or so many other possibilities. If she does apply for something like disability, she'll probably have to have an evaluation done, however I don't know how it works in different areas.

Cabbie21 Thu 22-Apr-21 11:51:48

Thanks for all the comments. I dare say lockdown hasn't helped as staying in the security of home has been normal, not exceptional. It will be hard for many people to get going again.

JaneJudge Thu 22-Apr-21 11:55:15

I know they keep changing the age you can claim your pension but presumably she is 64/65? and after working AND being someone's main carer I imagine she is bloody exhausted.

Cabbie21 Thu 22-Apr-21 12:42:50

Yes, and if money wasn’t an issue, giving up work would be easy.

Elusivebutterfly Thu 22-Apr-21 12:50:43

This is one of the problems with increasing pension age. A few years ago she would have just claimed her pension. Maybe she is just exhausted after years of caring and the combination of grief and the thought of a full time job is just too much for her.

Kim19 Thu 22-Apr-21 13:10:09

Work was my lifesaver when my husband died. His funeral was on a Wednesday and I returned to my office on the Friday afternoon. That way I reckoned I could get over all the initial sympathy glances and words. I also had this irrational feeling that, if I didn't go back then, I wouldn't go back at all. Weird but convincing. Cannot understand the longevity involved here. Does anyone ever totally stop mourning the loss of someone dear? Don't think so but one must soldier on. Feel a little guilty in thinking this lady is being somewhat over indulgent in herself here.

Yabbie Thu 22-Apr-21 13:15:21

We're all different, but when my husband was killed in a tractor accident I was feeding animals that night and organising fence replacement next day. I was a complete mess for a couple of years but some jobs don't await one's convenience.
I think I kept going out of necessity. I also think it was good for me. This lady would seem to have lost her main reason for living as well as her mother. That must be so hard

Margiknot Thu 22-Apr-21 13:50:25

Universal credit might be available if she is too unwell ( physically or mentally) to work. She might be able to work part time ( if that is all her health allows) and get that topped up by benefits. She needs to speak to the money advise part of citizens advice ( if still available).

Calendargirl Thu 22-Apr-21 13:58:36

Kim and Yabbie.

I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. Sometimes it can be beneficial to have to ‘keep going’. The longer you are off, it can be very hard to go back and face people. I realise this might come across as uncaring to some, but eventually, you do have to return to whatever ‘normal’ is, even if it’s never the same.

GillT57 Thu 22-Apr-21 14:28:24

Oh dear, this is a difficult one isn't it? From what you have said, your friend could be suffering from some sort of social anxiety after being in lockdown after losing her Mother. The trouble is, the less she mixes, goes out, the harder it will be for her, and to be perfectly honest, from what I have heard and read about claims for Universal Credit, she is unlikely to be successful in using it to bridge her leaving work and claiming her state retirement pension. Many women of her age are exhausted from looking after elderly parents, grandchildren, and working; it doesn't make it right, but she is not alone.

eazybee Thu 22-Apr-21 16:54:00

Be careful.
I worked with someone in her thirties whose mother died, and she had a whole year off. On the day she returned to work she was involved in a car accident, not her fault, and suffered whiplash. Three years later she was still on sick leave and refused to resign, retire, consider part time work or discuss the situation at all; her doctor forbade the school to contact her because she was suffering stress. The teacher who covered her job was increasingly fed up as she could not have a permanent post (mortgage implications) and no one could move on. I left that school so I have no idea how long the situation continued.

JaneJudge Thu 22-Apr-21 16:59:49

The woman is 65 though. Caring for someone and then losing them is hard work without having to go back to do your last two years in your mid 60s. I actually think it is really unfair, cruel even.

We don't know what her 'job' is either

Cabbie21 Thu 22-Apr-21 18:51:24

Update, to pick up a few points raised.
The lady has had advice about benefits and she is just over the limit to qualify for any means-tested benefits. Her husband is on state pension at quite a low rate and they have a small amount of savings. She is hoping to get a disability benefit but quite honestly I doubt she will qualify. I help people with far worse problems and they find it hard to meet the criteria which are quite harsh.
My personal opinion is that tax payers should not be supporting her and if I am honest, I feel there is a bit of self indulgence going on here. Not that I have said so to her. That would be unkind.
I don’t understand her doctor not offering a route to more support.
I can understand her not wanting to go back to work, but the longer you leave it, the harder it must be, I am sure. Maybe a different part time job would suit her.
I wonder what her husband thinks, but I don’t know him.

I certainly think in any job having to work beyond 65 should not be compulsory and the change in the retirement age happened too quickly, causing unfairness.

JaneJudge Thu 22-Apr-21 20:02:12

do you realise how much money she has saved 'taxpayers' by being an unpaid family carer?

Have you ever been an unpaid carer for a relative or spouse?

JaneJudge Thu 22-Apr-21 20:02:56

apparently you weren't being judgemental ether, turns out you were.