Is It Okay to Grieve the Loss of a Job?

Job loss grief is natural as you navigate the emotionally difficult experience of being let go. This is especially true if you have invested years at the company. For many, you are losing more than “just” a job – you are losing a way of life, an income you likely depend on, as well as co-workers you consider good friends.

While you may think you shouldn’t “grieve” the loss of a job, this could not be farther from the truth. Job loss grief is natural. After all, losing your job is among the top five life stressors a person can experience. The grieving process is very similar to the stages of grief one goes through after losing a loved one or experiencing a medical emergency. While not as catastrophic, job loss can have a big emotional effect on you. To help ease the pain, gain an understanding of the stages of grief and give yourself permission to move through each of them.

1. Denial

This is a basic survival instinct that surfaces when we face an unpleasant or trying situation. “This cannot be happening,” or “There has been some mistake,” are phrases you might tell yourself during this stage. When you are in denial, it can be hard to take positive steps forward. Give yourself time to process the news and grasp your new reality, but don’t dwell on your denial for too long. It will keep you from moving forward and planning your next steps to finding a new job.

2. Anger and disbelief

These emotions are typically the next feelings you move through. You may find yourself asking, “How could they do this to me?” You may ruminate over all the great things you did for the company, how you worked harder than the guy sitting next to you and what a terrible mistake the company made in letting you go. Be very careful during this stage – many people have a tendency to get stuck in it and let the anger build to an unhealthy level. Know that being angry is NOT going to help you find that new job. In fact, that anger will only create more obstacles to you moving forward.


3. Bargaining

This is a reaction some people have when a situation feels hopeless. And losing your job can feel like a desperate time. You do not want to bargain your way out of a bad situation. It might be tempting to try to make a deal with your employer to stay on, when the reality is it is simply time to move on.

4. Depression

Once you have moved past the first few stages, you may feel ready to launch your job search – but feelings of grief may still persist. Depression is the next stage of the process and can really hit hard during this time. You may not get offered the first, third or even the tenth job you apply for. “I am never going to find a job!” is what you will hear yourself saying. Do not get discouraged! Perseverance will help you focus on the good in the situation and the opportunities ahead. Make good use of your IMPACT Group career coach and the job search tools at your fingertips to stay motivated. A positive attitude will make a big difference during this stage.

5. Acceptance

And finally, you come to the acceptance stage of the grieving process. You should not consider this “giving in,” but more about “giving up” a negative way of thinking. You have come to accept the current situation and can let the past go in order to look to your future! Once you realize you are able to move forward from the loss, you can make great headway in your job search and land the job of your dreams.

The job loss grief process takes time.

You do not want to rush through any of these stages, as each is important to help you heal after a loss. Once you recognize the signs of the stage you are in, you will be more apt to acknowledge your feelings, accept your situation and move toward a more positive future.