Monday, February 25, 2013


Like any loss, a job loss often results in a feeling of grief. Inevitably you must mourn the loss of the job and all that it provided: Security, money, self-esteem, status, identity, etc. Having a concrete goal can help you through the grieving process.

I like this model for dealing with loss that is similar to the traditional Kubler Ross Model, but this one provides additional, more positive stages.  7 stages for moving BEYOND the grief. 

1.     SHOCK & DENIAL-
In this stage you will feel generally numb – this serves as a coping mechanism to protect you from what may be potentially overwhelming. If you have recently lost your job you may be unable to think about how you feel about that loss, what you will do, and so forth. This stage keeps you moving forward physically and ensures you will meet all your basic needs. 

What you can do: You should take this opportunity to breathe. Literally.  Keep a notebook with you during this, and the following stages, and write EVERYTHING down.  Write down the smallest thoughts and feelings, as they come to mind.  Let yourself be emotional and feel.  The worst thing you can do is to block yourself off from your emotions. To refocus:  Keep a separate section for any positive thoughts or ideas that come to mind – you will find comfort in these as you progress through the various stages.

2.     PAIN & GUILT-
Pain and heart-break are laced with guilt in this stage. You may relate it to a lost love from which you suffered in the past.  Self-blame is common: You may know it must be that you are not worthy or must have deserved it.

What you can do: Accept comfort and seek out others who care about you and/or who have had similar experiences, or are currently working through this process themselves.  To refocus:  Think about when you have experienced a similar feelings – what helped?  What didn’t?  Repeat those things or techniques that are tried and true.

Anger is normal. You may reach this stage pretty quickly after a job loss, whether through lay-off, illness, injury or takeover. Accept this, express it, but be mindful how you do so – you may need the help of those closest to you during the next days, weeks, and/or months.

What you can do: Anger is normal.  If it helps, scream into a pillow or an empty field (if you have one available).  You may pound your fists on the bed or jump up and down in a tantrum if you are able.  Sometimes you just need to physically express your anger to get through it.  If you are a religious person, you might plead with your higher power at this point, promising anything from a new and improved you to all the money you will ever earn if you can just get a new job.  To refocus:  Continue to write in your notebook (call it a journal if you want).  Ask yourself what you are angry about.  Return to the section of your notebook in which you wrote any positive ideas or thoughts for your return to work or just in general.

It is important for you to “feel” how you feel – you are likely to feel depressed and lonely. You are cut off from your normal social network. The bottom line is just the act of getting up, dressed, out to work every day, and  interacting with others gives you some social and emotional support that is felt missing at this point. You should allow these feelings, recognize them, and think about what support you need going forward.

What you can do: If you are feeling depressed or lonely, take this time to be alone and think about your current situation.  If you feel too lonely seek out others who you respect and/or have a positive, supportive nature. To refocus: Take stock of your assets (literally and figuratively).  These may include your skills and abilities as well as your financial assets. 

Eventually you will attain a rhythm in your recuperation and/or job search and networking and will feel some sort of calm and organization. You may flash back occasionally to feelings of guilt when you realize this. Understand that this is the first step in moving beyond your grief from the loss of your job and that it is entirely NORMAL.

What you can do: Have a goal, complete with time frame, and steps that you can take toward that goal.  Make your goal more specific and meaningful than “Get a job.”   For example, will you settle for any job right now and then move on to find a better one?  Or, do you have the resources to spend numerous months to search for a job at a given level?  To refocus:  Write down your goal and when you want to achieve it (it can be modified if necessary), develop a schedule (also in writing) that will allow you to reach your goal.  Review your schedule and goal daily.   

As you begin the upward turn, you will eventually be able to think about where you want to be and what type of job you might like to have. For many, this is the first time they have had the opportunity to consider what type of job they might like to do and/or what they ENJOY. Many note that the lay-off, downsizing, or job change was the best thing that could have happened because it forced them to look at what is out there relative to what they have to offer. 

What you can do: Keep writing in your notebook and re-evaluate your progress and which goals you want to keep on a weekly basis. What is working?  What is not getting you the interviews you need to get hired? Try to use a critical eye, if this is difficult, seek the help of an expert or a mentor.

Eventually, you will be able to accept that you may not be the same exact person you were before your “loss”, but somehow you are the best you can be and you have made the most of what life has to offer. You are able to move forward, seeking and finding other employment opportunities. It isn’t easy, but it is possible, even if it doesn’t seem so right now. 

What you can do:  You will gain confidence and hope from your activity.  Stay organized and act on every lead as soon as possible without being overly hasty.  Note anything positive that happens during the day, whether or not it is job search related.  Make your plan for the next day so that you have something to look forward to.

You may not progress neatly through these stages, but most people will experience some level of each stage.  Treat this part of your life as a leg of a journey, secure in the knowledge that you will end up where you need to be.

How do you cope with loss?  Comment Below or email me!

Mary Sherwood, MS, CDMS, CCM
Professional, Rehab, &; Occupational Services, LLC
Landline 302.644.1827 | Mobile: 410.444.1989 | Skype Mary E. Sherwood

Another article that may be of interest:

Feb 13, 2013
Often, unemployed job seekers set a long term goal of to "get a job." If you are employed and looking for work you may think your goal is to "find another job" or to "get a better job." A more definitive goal with clear cut time .

 Let me know how you are doing or how I can help! 

Comment below or reach out.

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