Back to work, back to a new reality

As many of you know, I'm a secondary school teacher in a school in south Dublin. I love my job - my friends at work, the students, the staff, the school and campus, the ethos we strive towards and maybe most of all the chance to affect change on the lives of those I work for/with. I'm passionate about the work I do and almost ten years after starting where I work I'm proud of the career I have forged; I like going to work in the mornings. Within that context I decided that returning to work just two weeks after Liane's death was the right thing for me to do. Some people told me it was too early, that I was rushing back and others understood but were understandably wary. How did it go? Well, it went.

The first week back coincided with a Whole School Evaluation from the Department of Education, something that comes around roughly once a decade. Three inspectors visited and examined all parts of school life, interviewing staff, students, parents and more. They sat in on classes and met with the Board of Management. They read through all our paperwork and spoke to senior and junior management. It was a tense and busy atmosphere that allowed me return but without being the focal point. The second week back was one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I left work early on a number of days, overwhelmed with the small details - commutes spent on the phone to Liane were now a thing of the past, the daily sharing I mentioned previously was abruptly over and the questions I found myself facing (albeit asked gently and with love) were incessant. I struggled to keep on top of anything. Meetings with parents, Sports Day, Graduation - events I'd looked forward to and revelled in became red rings on the diary I was suddenly scared of.

Had I come back too soon? Maybe, maybe not. Every situation/person is different and it felt like the right choice at the time. My friends looked after me when I needed them and the management in the school were exceptionally caring and understanding. I think I grew stronger from facing the harsh difficulties and I think by facing them in such a public way I helped students see a facet of life they aren't often exposed to. I was worried about upsetting students who may have been through similar loss but the opposite was often the case with a number of the older boys writing notes/cards to me saying as much. 

On the long road to recovery and rebuilding this was a big step for me. There are many more ahead just like it and I expect them to be similar - tough, rewarding and not without pain. Towards them I walk with Liane in my heart.