Working Overtime


Grief is a full-time job – and every bit as boring and stressful and somehow predictable and unpredictable all at once as a real 9-to-5.

Just as I have a routine of washing my coffee mug and making my coffee in the break room every morning – squirting the dish soap, scrubbing the mug with a wet paper towel because I don’t trust the communal office sponge, brewing the coffee, adding the creamer, sipping slowly at my desk while I check my email – so too do I now have a “grief routine” that includes biweekly crying in the shower and frequently resting my own thumb against the necklace I never take off that bears my mom’s thumbprint, taken from her body at the crematorium.

Just as some days go exactly as planned with meetings and lunch breaks and mundane formulaic emails while some days go entirely off the rails with minor crises and workplace drama and ALL CAPS EMAILS, so too does my grief normally follow one script, where I can keep it all together except for my allotted shower crying time, while other times, I suddenly find myself weeping in my office, snotting copiously into my COVID mask, because a colleague complained about their mom and I managed to be sympathetic only to break down as soon as they walked away because I miss being able to complain about my mom.

And even though my loss feels unique and special and exquisitely painful and all my own and even though I absolutely love my job and feel privileged to do it and often tear up with sheer awe at the fact that I get paid to do something I love so much … I am also every bit as bored by my own waves of sorrow as I sometimes am by answering the same question again and again at my job.

I’m so tired of being sad. I’m so tired of trying to escape into a mindless YouTube cooking video only to start crying because someone’s mom randomly appears in a video about Thanksgiving potato recipes. I’m so tired of feeling so many things so often.

With a job, I can cross things off a to-do list and feel a sense of satisfaction. With a job, I get paid. With a job, I can build my skillset.

Grief is a chance to build life skills, I guess, but the other benefits are pretty shitty.

The hourly rate of grief is not worth it.

I will never be done with grief, but I hope it won’t always be my full-time job.

It is not in the running for “best places to work.”

I give it ZERO stars on Glassdoor.

My morning routine is fine. My mourning routine is something I could do without.

But here I am, putting in the hours and hoping to be on the other side of this eventually.

Older. Wiser. Stronger.

But so very tired.




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