Losing Your Job Can Cause Grief Too...And Here’s What You Can Do to GrieveMar 12, 2023
Losing Your Job Can Cause Grief Too..And Here’s What You Can Do to Grieve
It seems like every other day there is more news about mass layoffs around the country. And while the conversation around layoffs often focuses on the economy or advises folks on the best resume strategies, here at Grieve Leave, we want to have a different conversation…
Losing a job is HARD, no matter what led to it. Maybe you saw it coming. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you loved your role. Maybe you didn’t. Whatever came before it, a loss is a loss. And while it’s tempting to bury our noses in LinkedIn posts and cover letters instead of facing how we feel, maybe, for once, we can stop for a second and recognize that what we are feeling is grief. What does the grief of losing a job feel like? It’s a sense of emptiness when responsibilities end that we had grown accustomed to. Or perhaps our identity has been tied up with our title and what we do for work– and now, who are we? Maybe we feel resentful of or betrayed by people we used to see as colleagues. Or maybe we’re happy to be out of there, but miss the community we’d built around the water cooler or Zoom windows. We might feel some guilt around the loss, especially when it comes to family, even if it was outside of our control. All of that is the complicated amalgamation of feelings that makes up grief.
So, let’s say you’re experiencing job loss grief. Now, what? Taking the time to process that grief might just help you feel a little bit better, personally, as you move forward into next steps, professionally. How do we actually process that grief? How do we grieve? Here are some ideas to help get you started:
Acknowledge the Loss & Your Feelings - Reflect on how this job has been part of your life, and the emotions you are feeling right now
Give yourself the space and time to process your emotions and reflect on the fact that this job is over. Be honest with yourself that this is a loss, and with that might come some grief. One way to acknowledge the loss is to reflect on how this job has been part of your life, up until now. Writing out your feelings can be a powerful tool to help you better understand them. You could journal about your experiences and memories: What did you learn from your job? How did you grow? What made you feel great in that job, and what made you feel not so great? How do you feel about this job ending? How do you feel about making a job or career change?
But remember: This is not a cover letter exercise– this is a chance for you to write out the story of you in your former job, and the story of your loss.
Don’t think of yourself as a journaler? You could find quiet time every day, even if just for a few minutes, to reflect on these questions, or whatever else surfaces for you.
Most importantly: be compassionate with yourself when uncomfortable feelings surface. Whether it's jealousy, guilt, fear, or sadness, or maybe just naming the feelings with the word “grief,” acknowledging your experience and being honest about how it impacts you can help you move forward. Whatever you feel about the loss is ok– there’s no “right” way to feel in your grief.
Reach Out To Others - Talking to family and friends can help you process your feelings
In big moments of grief, we might want to turtle shell up in our pain. It’s easy to feel isolated. It’s easy to feel shame, even. But it’s during times like these that our communities– the people who love and care about us– are the most important. A call, a text, a knock on the neighbor’s door…now’s a great time to connect to share as much or as little as you want about how you’re feeling. You could even reach out to your former colleagues who were laid off as well, and you might make a new friend who understands what you’re experiencing.
Your loved one or friend might not know exactly what to say as you’re experiencing your grief, but their listening ear over the phone, or just sitting next to you on the couch, might be just what you need to feel a little less alone.
A moment of loss might also be a good time to seek out the support of a licensed mental health professional. They can help you build and hone the tools as you sort through your feelings in the short and long term.
Reaching out to ask for help is not a sign of weakness– at all! It takes real strength and courage to be vulnerable with those you care about. And you may just learn that most people have experienced job-related grief at some point in their lives: you are not alone!
Take Time for Self-Care - Make time for the activities you love
Our griefiest moments are really important times to invest in our self-care. After a job loss, you might not be thinking that now’s the time for something that seems inconsequential when your day-to-day reality is up in the air. But: your mental wellbeing is the most important thing you can be spending your time on. Now is a great time to carve out space each day or every week for an activity or a hobby you enjoy. Do the things you love, without judgment.
Maybe that looks like baking a cake or making your favorite meal. Haven’t read a book in a while? Now’s the time to pick an old favorite off the shelf. Getting creative can be a great way to help you process your feelings and clear your head: you could paint or write or play the guitar in the garage. You could try a new exercise class, go for a walk or a hike, or head to the gym with a friend: getting active can be a great way to process your feelings and bring some joy into your life. Self care can even be as small as taking a few extra minutes to sit quietly and enjoy your first cup of coffee of the day while you listen to music. Savor those small moments, too.
The possibilities are endless! Finding something that works for you now, when you have maybe a little bit of extra hours in your week, can help make self-care a part of your regular routine in the future.
Job grief sucks. And even though that grief can get pretty loud telling you you’re the only one who’s ever felt this way, remember: layoffs and job loss happens to so many people. It’s common. You are absolutely not alone.
But whatever you’re feeling is how you feel, and that grief will change over time. Give yourself the time and space to do what works for you, and seek out community when you need some extra support. Let yourself grieve, on your terms. Remember: there is no “right” way to grieve.
How have you grieved a job loss or transition? Share your story with us on @grieveleave or email us at [email protected]. Here at Grieve Leave we talk about our grief-- and we listen too :)
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