How do you cope with being unemployed during the holidays? Like any loss, a job loss results in grief. Inevitably you must mourn the loss of the job and all that it provided: Security, money, self-esteem, status, identity, etc. I like this model for dealing with loss that is similar to the traditional Kubler-Ross Model, but provides 7 stages for moving BEYOND the grief. In Part I an overview of the grieving process as it relates to the loss of a job. Part II will give suggestions for how to enhance your transition through the process.
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 recently have lost your job you may be unable to think about how you feel about that, what you will do, and so forth. This stage keeps you moving forward physically and ensures you will meet all your basic needs.
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 suffer and know it must be that you are not worthy or must have deserved it.
3. ANGER & BARGAINING
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 most during the next days, weeks, and/or months.
4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS
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 support, however helpful it was. The bottom line is that just the act of getting up and dressed and out to work every day and interacting with others gives you some social and emotional support that is seriously felt to be missing at this point.
You should allow these feelings, recognize them and think about what you need going forward.
5. THE UPWARD TURN
Eventually you will attain a rhythm in your 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.
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH
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, 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 had to offer.
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE
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.
Mary is a Masters-prepared Career Counselor with over 18 years experience in resume writing, personal branding, career assessment and counseling. Specializing in non-traditional specialized careers and career-transitioning, she has the ability to synthesize and focus your unique skills and abilities to obtain interviews for the positions you want with the employers you want to notice you. Follow her on Twitter at @MarySevinsky.