5 Stages of Grieving Over a Job Loss

Photo by Aturkus

Photo by Aturkus

Losing your job can feel a lot like losing someone you love.

Think about it.  First, there’s the financial aspect—you had money to feed your family, and now you don’t.  That’s bad.  But there’s also the social aspect—you spent eight (or more) hours a day with these people, and now they’re suddenly out of your life.  You say that you’ll keep in touch, but that usually doesn’t happen.  There’s also the loss of identity—you walked around saying, “I am an accountant,” or “I am an HR director,” and now you walk around saying, “I am unemployed.”  For some people, that’s huge.  It’s no surprise that people who lose their jobs often go through a profound grieving process.  It’s certainly not on the same scale as losing someone you love, but the process can be very similar for many people.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross came up with a list of five distinct stages of grief.  Although her work was focused on people dealing with terminal illness, I think it often applies to the loss of a job as well.  Knowing up front what the process looks like can help you move through it more quickly.  These are the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial—This can’t be happening to me! This is where you are still buying purses and having lunch at Noodles and Company twice a week, because you haven’t gotten it through your head that the direct deposit is really going to end soon (okay, maybe that was just me). It takes a while for the news to sink in, even when you can see it coming a mile away.  I’m amazed at how many people can watch round after round of layoffs in their company, and still be shocked when they get the word themselves.  If you are lucky enough to get a severance package, this stage can last an especially long time, because the direct deposit really doesn’t stop right away.
  2. AngerHow could they do this to me? This is where you mentally list every fabulous thing you ever did at work and rail against these weenies who don’t appreciate you.  You obsess about the slacker in the next cube who survived when you didn’t, or the idiot boss who chose to save the one who is better at playing politics than he is at actually doing the work.   It’s normal to spend some time in this phase, but some people get stuck here and can’t move forward.  That’s really self-defeating, because that pissed-off attitude is a HUGE barrier to getting hired someplace else.
  3. Bargaining—Maybe if I just… Not everybody does this, but some employees try like crazy to keep their jobs, even after the ax has fallen.  Some look for a job within the same company, even when it’s clear that the company itself is in bad shape.  Others offer to take pay cuts, take on extra work, go part time…anything to stay with their current organization.  Once in a great while, this actually works, but I’ve found that even when employees manage to hang on, there are often bad feelings that make it a miserable experience.
  4. Depression—I’m never going to get a job. This is a normal feeling in any job search, but in the current downturn, I don’t know many people who aren’t spending a good bit of time in this stage.  Even great candidates are having trouble finding jobs, and it’s difficult to avoid feeling completely overwhelmed by the situation.
  5. Acceptance—Well, that sucked.  What’s next? The fact is that you WILL find a job.  It might be a while, but it’s incredibly unlikely that you will be unemployed forever.  You will get through this.  We will all get through this.  In the meantime, you will experience the joy that comes from being able to grocery shop in the middle of the day—and that does not suck one bit.

Get more stuff like this

Don't miss a thing. Subscribe to new posts via email.

6 Responses

  1. abdpbt 6 years ago
  2. Eliz 6 years ago
  3. Amy Boland 6 years ago
  4. Kerry 6 years ago
  5. maruca 6 years ago
  6. Danny Fitzpatrick 6 years ago
2604811407_0a9328103f_o
BREAKING: Clue Wagon is Now a Dating Website
4482942978_c4347b15fe_z
Ancestor Hate Mail
Ancestry DDoS attack
8 Theories on the REAL Reason for the Ancestry.com Outage
8409353231_68d3062177_z
Confession: I’m a GeneaFreak in My Sleep
4400388995_af65ba1fae_z
Can We Stop Calling Grandma a Whore?
Ancestry DDoS attack
8 Theories on the REAL Reason for the Ancestry.com Outage
5027161428_f762af4ce5_z
Why Don’t People Post Public Family Trees?
3366720659_b746789dfd_z
Confession: I Hate Free Genealogy Stuff
Family History Library Visitor Tips
9 Things You Need To Know Before You Go to RootsTech/FGS
1594411528_1512b1aad5_z
How to Stop Spammers From Stealing Your Facebook Identity
nelson-scheiber-wedding-minneapolis
Guerrilla Genealogy: Hunting Down Wedding Guests
4212380812_a008fbbf06_z
Dead People, Dead People, Dead People, SQUIRREL!
7464252264_a12645770a_k
Why Your DNA Test Results Are Wrong
Horrified Senior Woman
Clue: Your Ancestry Username and Your Pee-Oh-R-N Username Should Not Be The Same
4400388995_af65ba1fae_z
Can We Stop Calling Grandma a Whore?
5718897981_10faa45ac3_z
How to Get Around Those “No Family Tree” Cousins on AncestryDNA
7512877940_2720e3be12_z
Want a Full Refund on Your NewspaperArchive.com Subscription? Just Ask About Their Charity.
3366720659_b746789dfd_z
Confession: I Hate Free Genealogy Stuff
250436252_11e6b00028_z
O Come, All Ye Drama Llamas
6587951925_169aa0d54f_z
Is Making Money From Your Blog Still a Thing?
4482942978_c4347b15fe_z
Ancestor Hate Mail
1594411528_1512b1aad5_z
How to Stop Spammers From Stealing Your Facebook Identity
Ancestry DDoS attack
8 Theories on the REAL Reason for the Ancestry.com Outage
7512877940_2720e3be12_z
Want a Full Refund on Your NewspaperArchive.com Subscription? Just Ask About Their Charity.