By Sydney Chhabra, Ph.D.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, being on the receiving end of a job layoff, aka “pink slip” notice is more common that we would like to acknowledge. If you are facing a company layoff or have already been laid-off, then you are likely to feel a roller coaster of emotions and go through stages of loss and grief.
Just as we experience grief over the loss of a loved one, it’s natural to feel grief over the loss of employment. Let’s walk through the steps to better understand what is likely to happen.
Shock & Denial
This is the first stage of grief where you are in shock or even denial that you have actually lost your job or are about to lose your job. You may be in disbelief and may even try anything and everything you can think of to prevent the loss from taking place. Sensing a major loss of control over our lives can be terrifying and create a sense of panic and ignite a desperate need to regain control.
Anger & Resentment
After the initial shock and denial of the job loss begin to wear down and reality sets in, anger surfaces. Anger and resentment may be directed at the person(s) you believe are responsible for causing you pain. You are likely to experience a sense of betrayal towards those whom you felt you could trust.
Feeling anxious not knowing where or when your next job will come from, you may vow to do things differently in hope of protecting yourself from further loss and pain. You may work harder than ever (if the layoff is still pending) and act in an appeasing manner in hopes of gaining favor from the powers-that-be. If the job loss has already taken place, you may look back and experience some guilt at things you could have done differently (i.e. Maybe if I had done ___ I would have been spared).
After all is said and done and you realize that you cannot turn back time, you accept the fact that you have lost your job. You realize that it’s time to say goodbye and move forward. For some, there may even be a sense of relief that things are finalized and the quest to fight and hang on has ended. For others there may be guilty feelings of pleasure in leaving a job or coworkers they didn’t like and were hoping to leave anyways.
You begin looking for a new job
Once you gain some distance and respite from this very intense and stressful situation, you begin to focus your energy in securing new employment. It’s natural to worry that something similar may happen to you again, especially if you have undergone layoffs before.
It’s now time to update your resume and explore what opportunities you have available to you out there. You may even want to consider working in a position or career different than the one you had, especially if you were unhappy. Work with a life or career coach who can help walk you through this process and be a constant source of support.
Rest assured, you are not alone facing this very stressful and demoralizing situation. Most of all, do not blame your self. Perception of events can make or break self-esteem. Use this as an opportunity to explore the type of job or career you have been fantasizing about. Most of all, even though it may seem difficult to accept at this time, it is through facing and surviving hardships that we realize our true strengths and potential.