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Unemployment Blues: Mourning Your Job Loss

Aug 17, 2007
To lose a job, for any reason, is to lose something of value. Even work we didn't particularly like meant something to us. It gave us some type of identity, money, sometimes prestige and power. Loss of work leads to a general emotional loss. While it doesn't jolt our world as much as losing a spouse or a child, or even going through a divorce, it is similar to having a long-standing relationship break up or the death of a favorite family pet. We need to give ourselves time to grieve, to work through the stages of loss first identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her exploration of how we deal with death.

1. Denial.

The refusal to accept the reality of your layoff. If you don't believe it, it isn't real. You'll wake up tomorrow and find that it's all a bad dream. You tell yourself: "This really isn't happening to me, It is all a mistake. They'll call me back and everything will go on just the way it was."

2. Bargaining.

When the reality seeps in and denial is no longer a viable option, we move into the bargaining phase. We try to "make a deal" with someone, anyone, to rectify the situation. You promise: "I'll be good, really good. I'll do anything, God, if you just make this one thing okay."

3. Anger.

The bargains don't work so our emotions turn to anger. Life isn't fair but that's easy to say and hard to emotionally accept. The reality of what has happened makes your blood boil and you find yourself hissing under your breath: "It isn't fair. How dare that young punk throw me out after all I've done for this company? It's the government's fault -sending all those jobs overseas."

4. Depression.

As your anger fades and then turns inward against yourself, you start to feel scared of the future, mentally overwhelmed, and terribly abandoned. You obsess on your fears: "How am I going to survive? No one cares. I feel so alone."

5. Acceptance.

You are finally able to acknowledge the truth, that you will continue to live and, maybe if something good happens for a change, you'll thrive in a new environment. You admit: "I don't like it. I hurt. But I'm ready to move on and find something new and different."

It is when you finally reach acceptance, a long hard journey for some with prolonged periods of anger and depression along the way, that the future starts to take shape and you are finally able to look forward, not back. At that moment, and not until then, the floundering stops and you are able to look around with a hopeful spirit and develop an adventurous mood instead of wallowing in self-pity.
About the Author
A Licensed Psychologist and Rehabilitation Counselor, Dr. Bola developed emotional coping strategies and job search skills for clients and has served as a recognized Vocational Expert in court. Visit her at: http://www.unemploymentblues.com
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