Thursday, May 17, 2012

The 5 Stages of Job Loss Grief

The chances are very good that you or someone you know has recently lost their job or will lose their job at some time. Just last week, a member of my family lost her job. In her words, it was "completely out of the blue." People tend to grieve the loss of a job in some of the same ways as grieving the loss of someone we care about. After all, many of us find our identity in our careers. Here are the 5 stages of job loss grief you may experience.

Stage 1 - Shock and Denial
Whether the writing was on the wall or not, we are almost always shocked when it happens to us. Of course, you can't truly deny the fact you are being laid off. However, thoughts of "I can't believe they are letting me go" and "They will not be able to live without me" go through our minds in this stage. Much of the time, I hear from people who were so shocked and numb in the lay off meeting, they forget to ask important questions such as benefits extensions, severance, and requests for letters of recommendation.

Stage 2 - Anger
The other day, when my family member was laid off, she was very unhappy to find that even though she was a director, the company had someone escort her to her desk and watched over her carefully while she packed. Of course, this made her very upset. It is okay to feel anger, it is an important part of the healing process. However, never burn a bridge - that person you "tell off" could very well be an excellent source of referral down the road.

Step 3 - Bargaining
Don't get mired in asking yourself the "what if . . . " or musing about the "if only . . ." typical bargaining with yourself questions. Instead focus your energy on bargaining your severance package. My family member I mentioned earlier negotiated an additional month of severance pay and benefits extension.

Step 4 - Depression
People tend to take lay-offs very personal. You have to keep in mind that this is not personal, it is not a reflection of your value, it is simply a business decision based on the company's financial status. It is important to have an updated resume at all times so you can avoid wallowing in self-pity and instead focus on getting back into the job market.

Step 5 - Acceptance
I am one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason. I just wish the universe would share its motivations with me once in a while! Accept the reality of the situation and use it as a springboard for a new chapter in your career. You may be in for some rough times, but with a great resume and perseverance you will land on your feet again soon.

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