Whether you have been laid off due to tough economic times or fired because of your abject work performance, losing your job can bring immense grief that sometimes feels like you have lost someone so dear to you. The distress results from the failure to come to terms with the reality of the job loss. You ask yourself questions on how you are going to feed your family as well as how to save face in front of other people. As is the case with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s classification of grieving stages, a job loss depression consists of five stages.
1. Denial: It can’t be happening to me!
Stage one of the grieving process is characterized by a lot of self-denial regarding a job loss or the possibility of that happening. A massive layoff of workers in your organization ought to alert you to the insecurity of your job after which you should start seeking new opportunities. However, one feature of denial is that you will be blind to what is happening around you and suffer a rude shock when the axe finally falls on you.
2. Fury: Why me?
At this stage, questions swirl in your head in a bid to understand why the company chose to dispense with your services. You keep mentally detailing every good thing you have ever contributed to the company while finding fault with people who are unappreciative as well as those who kept their jobs. Avoid stagnating in this stage for too long because it is self-defeating towards your ambitions to get back up. Attending professional guidance counselling sessions will help you get over this anger.
3. Bargaining: Maybe if I could…
You know you are in stage three of your job loss depression when you begin to mull the possibility of begging for your job back. It could also involve seeking a different position within the same organization even if its financial health may be in tatters. Offering to take a pay cut or shoulder extra work responsibilities are also characteristics of people who are knee-deep in this phase. While you could still pull it off and get a lifeline, you would still have to grapple with the bad feeling of having had to stoop down so low to save your job.
4. Depression: Will I ever get a job?
At this stage, the situation is overwhelming as doubts intensify in your mind over your chances of landing another job. Inward criticism is likely to creep in with questions such as ‘Why did I fail?’ or ‘I must be unworthy’ constantly featuring on your mind. This shows a withering of your self-confidence as well as self-worth. Your physical activity declines and you start to add extra pounds. Key to climbing out of this slump is to seek solace from your inner strength and focus on what’s most important: get out there and start hunting for a new job.
5. Acceptance: Time to move on.
By this time, you would have accepted that what happened is in the past. Doing that gives you the peace of mind to move forward by dusting up your résumé for the long task of job hunting. It also entails looking positively at yourself as a person and an employee. Tell yourself that any organization that will employ you will have found a gem – a motivated, hardworking, cooperative and dynamic employee. In the midst of job hunting, take the opportunity to make new friends, new experiences as well as a fresh and positive perspective on life.
Understanding these stages enlightens you on how to deal with them if you find yourself in the same scenario. Remember to network widely and seek counselling support from professionals or trusted friends. When you make it through the storm, you might just look back at that job loss as a blessing in disguise.