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Grieving the Loss of a Job

March 1, 2014
Grieving the Loss of Job Blog Post- A picture of a woman carrying a box of her things out of her office

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If you’ve recently lost a job, grieving that loss is not as uncommon as you may realize. It’s perfectly okay if that has been happening to you.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you know that the economy is not very healthy. Job loss numbers are high and most people have realized that no matter how secure they may have once believed their job to be, no one in any job is immune. Because many companies are downsizing or going out of business altogether, many people who believed that they had nothing to worry about in their employment situation, are now finding themselves unemployed.

Unfortunately, there is little focus on the true emotional toll that losing a job creates. Of course, most people understand the financial stress that accompanies no longer receiving a regular paycheck. But people frequently overlook the grieving process that takes place when they lose their job. They simply are unaware that grief is what they are experiencing.

Now, if you hate your job with every fiber of your being, you probably won’t experience the grieving process after losing that job. It will probably feel more like relief, possibly with a little celebrating mixed in.

But if you liked your job, or even tolerated it, you will go through the process. Since a job or career is such a large part of your life and who you are, when it is suddenly taken away from you it creates a void.  It also confuses your subconscious mind, which constantly strives for a state of homeostasis….or in other words, it tries to keep things the same. That’s why major changes in life are so difficult.

So what are the stages of grieving that people go through after losing a job or career?

The stages of grief according to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:

1. Denial-the thought “This can’t be happening to me!”

2. Anger-” Why is this happening to me?”

3. Bargaining-” I promise that I’ll be a better person if….”

4. Depression- “I don’t care anymore”

5. Acceptance- “I’m ready for whatever comes”

Even though these steps were designed for terminal patients, we experience each of these stages whenever we encounter any type of loss….even the loss of a job.

Allow yourself to go through the steps. You may even go back and forth through them before you finally come to accept that your job or career is over. Then you will be ready to move forward and reinvent yourself.

Here are a few things you can do

1. Give yourself permission to go through all the different emotions during this time. It’s completely natural and expected. Trying to stuff the feelings down will only prolong the healing process.

2. Take care of yourself-get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, and eat healthy foods. If you do not take care of yourself during this stressful time, you will end up getting sick…and that will just complicate things even further.

3. Check your attitude. Don’t spend all of your time with an attitude of “poor me”. Does getting fired suck? Absolutely. But some of the wealthiest people have been fired many times in their lives. The difference for them was that they didn’t allow themselves to get caught in a “poor me” attitude. They looked for the opportunities around them and were open to allowing new opportunities into their life. You can do the same.

Do watch for the warning signs of depression during this time. If you are having a difficult time getting out of bed, or taking care of everyday responsibilities and feel down consistently for more than a month, you may be suffering from some depression as a result of the stress.

GO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP!!!! I cannot encourage you enough to do that. A naturopathic doctor can help…whether it is through short-term medication or supportive natural remedy, or by giving you some coping skills and strategies to help you through. They can even help to set some goals that can help you to move forward and be productive again.

Finally, I want you to remember that even though you may feel like these bad feelings will never go away, this situation is just temporary. This will pass, and better days will return. Hang in there until then!

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