A friend of mine who has worked with the same company for over 10 years was laid off recently. He was devastated. Providing for his family was what he was supposed to do and now he could no longer do that. Not only did he lose his job with a regular paycheck but he lost all the benefits that went with it. He was in a state of shock and wondered how he would face the future with little to no job prospects (similar companies were laying off).
When a person loses a job they are facing a great loss. Experiencing grief is a natural response to that job loss. When a person is laid off from their job they lose many things such as identity, income, self-worth, friends and colleagues, structure, benefits, stability, a place to belong and the list goes on. It is normal to feel a great sense of loss and grief when losing a job. Sometimes the effects of a job loss create all kinds of turmoil within a person.
Remember, grieving is different for everyone. How a person grieves over their job loss depends on many different factors such as personality, coping style, life experience, support systems in your life and faith. The grieving process takes time and healing cannot be forced or hurried.
Here are a few tips to remember when facing a job loss:
- Don’t ignore your pain. Express it with a close friend or family member. If you ignore your pain it will fester and get worse. In order to fully grieve you must face your pain and actively deal with it. Expressing yourself to others that care for you is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. You can also journal or keep a diary as a way of expressing your feelings.
- If you are feeling sad, frightened or lonely don’t try to put on a strong front for others. Putting on a brave front doesn’t help the healing process but prolongs it.
- Remember to allow yourself as much time as you need to feel the pain of your job loss. There is no deadline for grieving, it is a process and varies from person to person as to how long it will take.
- Don’t forget your basic health needs. Make sure you get the sleep you need, exercise and proper nutrition. Job loss is one of the highest causes of stress in your life. Your body will feel the effects and your resistance to illness will be lowered.
Common symptoms of grief:
- Shock and disbelief
Physical symptoms: weight loss or weight gain, loss of sleep or too much sleep, aches and pains, nausea, fatigue, or lowered immunity system
Coping with your job loss:
- Turn to friends and family
- Draw comfort from your faith
- Join a support group
- Talk with a therapist
- Exercise regularly even if it is just walking and being outside
- Allow yourself time to do something for yourself that you enjoy
In these tough economic times it is important to allow yourself to grieve and experience job loss in a healthy way. Don’t give up and make sure you take good care of yourself!
NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information below intact. Author: Deb Haughton, MS, LMHC