Coping With The Loss Of Your Job

Facing the prospect of redundancy, or being unable to work because of the coronavirus, can take a huge toll on you emotionally.  You may feel anxious, fearful or angry and there can be a sense of shame for some people whilst others might feel relief.  Even laidback and self-contained people can experience emotions that seem strange and unsettling and a lot of us haven’t had to cope with the emotional stresses and strains of this situation before.  So, learning how to cope with all this, letting go of the old and ushering in the new, is a big part of rebuilding a new life.

What your job means to you and what it gives you could include:

  • Daily structure/framework
  • Identity
  • Salary
  • Status
  • Standing in community/partner/friends/family
  • Friendships
  • Confidence

It’s likely that your job provides you with most or all of the above and therefore being made redundant, or being laid-off, can have a lot of knock-on effects including putting a strain on relationships within the home.  Understanding this process, recognising that it is quite normal, and accepting that it affects everyone can help us to come to terms with this situation.  It also gives us valuable empathy and insight into the feelings of others around us too.

As with any other loss, this means that we often experience similar symptoms to those experienced with a bereavement and because of that, most people need to grieve. This can be a slow process but it helps us to recover from events that are too overwhelming to deal with all at once.

There are usually six stages to the process of grief and how quickly we move through the stages will depend upon our individual circumstances. Sometimes these are given slightly different labels but essentially they are: shock, denial, anger/resistance, acceptance, exploration and challenge.

We don’t move through these stages in a straight line though and it’s quite common to have little relapses just when we think all is going well. A knock back like being rejected for a new job can bruise us all over again, so it’s important to be easy on ourselves.

 Stage 1 – Shock In a similar style to a grief reaction, people may take some time to address the reality of what has just occurred.  You can’t really do much at this stage but try to get to grips with what the new situation entails.

Stage 2 – Denial A common reaction may be to deny the impact of the redundancy or loss of your job “This isn’t (or can’t be) happening to me!”  There can be refusal to believe what is being said i.e. ‘you can’t mean it’, ‘after everything I’ve done for this place’.  Questioning of the facts i.e. ‘are you sure it’s me?’, ‘what about that project I’m working on?’  There may be denial or avoidance of uncomfortable facts.

Stage 3 – Anger/Resistance It is important to openly deal with what angers us. “Why did this have to happen to me?”  Anger and resentment can build up because a person may feel that they had seen disaster looming and done their best to prevent this.  However, if their job was lost, in spite of all their efforts to prevent this situation happening, they could feel angry and let down.  It’s natural to feel angry and work needs to done to pass onto a more positive frame of mind.  Anger de-skills us but it can also create a mood of self-preservation.’

Some people will also experience bitterness and there can be thoughts of revenge and ‘getting even’ and these feelings can often arise as a combination of issues.

Stage 4 – Acceptance Eventually, there starts to be some acceptance that the way things are done has indeed changed and that the old ways are in fact gone.  “I suppose if I have to deal with this, I might as well get on with it”  By this time the person has accepted at least one of the facts, faced up to the anger and fear and started missing some of the things that will never be the same again.  This realisation can often bring out new facts which have to be accepted i.e. plans for holidays, children house, etc.  Then the whole process starts again.  This may happen many times before grieving is complete.

Stage 5 – Exploration This will include a willingness to look at options to move forward from redundancy.  “How do I actually go forward from here?”  This is the point at which you might start to look at re-training, find a new job, thinking of setting up your own business. It will be important to understand how you will support yourself and your family whilst you develop an alternative income stream.  Sorting out your finances is an essential first step as it’s much harder to rebuild your life if you are constantly beset by money worries.

Stage 6 – Challenge Actually moving forward.  This where it is important that the change process is a catalyst for a positive outlook and not just there as an obstacle to moving on to your new life. If you are a job hunter, have you prepared a CV that is geared to the kind of job you want and demonstrates to recruiters and employers that you have what it takes to do it well?  If you have that CV written, have you researched/registered with all the employers, recruiters and websites appropriate to the type of new job you are looking for?  Have you networked with friends, family, colleagues, professional associations etc to look for additional leads?  If you have interviews, have you brushed up your interview skills?  Are you taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically because job hunting itself can be pretty hard work?  Are you pursuing your plan rigorously?

Managing your time effectively If you have been used to the routine of regular work suddenly not having that structure after you have been made redundant can be a mixed blessing. Common reactions can range from panic to paralysis!  During your period of redundancy-driven leisure, providing some structure to your days as soon as possible is vital. Job searching needs to be systematic so have times when you will look for work.  Don’t forget to factor in some time to relax, de-stress and consider options that might take you down a ‘new life route’.  Many people report that engaging in some form of sport or exercise especially running and swimming helps to keep us fit but also to release our ‘feel good’ hormones. It keeps us on the straight and narrow road to recovery, and depression at bay.  Being busy in a constructive way enables the healing process.

All in all, take each day as it comes.  Don’t expect too much, too quickly, from either your partner or yourself.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting or useful. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

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