The 6 Stages Of Grieving A Job (Once You’ve Been Fired)
The Debrief: For a while there I was all, ‘Woe is me. What am I gonna do? My life is in complete shambles! How am I going to bring myself to tell people?’, and other equally dramatic proclamations. Little did I know it was all part of the grieving process
Getting the sack sucks. As someone who’s been fired I can tell you that it’s literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to me - or at least that’s how it felt at the time. Three months after starting at a PR agency I was given the boot for failing to pass probation.
It’s not something you want to hear as a 27-year-old with a few solid years of experience behind you. In fact, it hit me like a punch to the gut delivered with the full force of an Anthony Joshua knockout. For a while there I was all, ‘Woe is me. What am I gonna do? My life is in complete shambles! How am I going to bring myself to tell people?’, and other equally dramatic proclamations.
Little did I know it was all part of the grieving process. Overcoming the loss of a job will take you on a wild ride of highs, mids and lows. Those unlucky enough to have experienced a sacking will know exactly how this feels and those who haven’t should continue reading in case they ever find themselves in this unfortunate position. Don’t think it won’t ever happen to you.
But one thing the experience taught me is that getting fired is more common than we think, and people lose their jobs for all sorts of reasons. Though it can feel like the end of the world, there should always be hope that things will get better.
So without further ado, here are the 6 stages of grieving a job (once you’ve been sacked).
The start of the grieving process. You’ve had the painfully awkward meeting with your manager and have officially been handed your walking papers. No big deal. He tried to deliver the news as delicately as possible which you appreciated, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d opted for the sledgehammer approach either. Why? Because you didn’t even care about the poxy job and never really wanted it anyway. You only took it because, duh…how does one survive with no income?
Yes, the journey to delusion often starts off like this. In order to mask the catastrophe that is your employment status, you trivialise the dire circumstances unfolding before you. All you need to do is find another job which won’t be that hard, surely, you tell yourself. You managed to land this one after all, and you’ve seen tonnes of jobs advertised. Your trickiest task will be trying to gloss over the fact that you’ve been fired when applying for new roles but that’s nothing you can’t handle. ‘Creative differences’ perhaps?
What the actual fuck?! They fired you? THEY fired YOU? The thought of it is enough to send you on a smash-up spree throughout your flat (but do bear in mind that destroying your own property in a fit of rage isn’t going to help matters). How dare they get rid of you? Why didn’t they offer you more training opportunities if your performance was such a big deal? Can’t they see how good you were? What did they mean you weren’t the ‘right fit’?
Questions like this will swirl around your head like a broken carousel as you desperately try to find the answers that’ll help you make sense of everything. You’ve reached the rage stage. Forget all the cordial talk, your old manager was an incompetent dick who couldn’t delegate his way out of a paper bag so he let you go. Plus, you’re seriously considering suing the company for unfair dismissal or better yet slagging them off on Glassdoor. Nothing less than they deserve.
Can’t…stop…crying. Curse your weak tear ducts! At this point it’s sunk in that shit has truly hit the fan. The job search isn’t going as well as you’d hoped and you seriously need to think about tightening the purse strings until you’ve secured a new role. Have you ever experienced such despair in your entire life? It seems not. What are you going to do? How are you going to pay your bills? What about rent? And the new pair of Zara shoes you wanted?
Distress is arguably the hardest stage of the grieving process. This is when you’re at your lowest emotionally. Sorrow, doubt, self-pity and panic have all kicked in and all attempts to remain positive prove futile.
Be honest - can you think of anything worse than ‘fessing up to family and friends that you’re jobless and have no clue what you’re going to do next. The embarrassment and borderline shame would be too much to bear, which is why you lie through your teeth and pretend everything’s fine, kind of like you did when you were in denial. Or better yet, since you’d rather forego the dishonest approach, you simply avoid everyone. You don’t have to speak to anyone about it if you never see them. Only until you get a new job of course. Once that’s been sorted the truth won’t seem so pathetic.
You’re now at the desperation stage which consists mostly of applying for any and every job you see advertised, whether it’s in line with your experience and interests or not. You’re not sweating the small details like salary, location or industry. Nope. As long as it’s a J-O-B that P-A-Y-S you’re open to trying it out. Applications are rapidly flying out of your mailbox as you start picturing yourself as a food stylist, or an embalmer, maybe even a sex toy tester.
It’s at this point that you seriously need to back away from the computer and take a long hard look at yourself. What the hell are you doing? It’s bad enough that you’ve been through one crappy experience with an employer, do you really want to risk the same thing happening again? Yes, you need to keep the lights on and a roof over your head but it would also be great if you didn’t loathe everything about your new job. Something will come along sooner or later, I promise.
And so you’ve reached the last stop on the journey that is the 6 stages of grieving a job (once you’ve been sacked). What a ride it’s been, and thanks for hanging in there with me. Acceptance is truly a beautiful thing. Don't you feel so much more at ease now that you’ve learned to live with what’s happened? You’ve been fired and there’s nothing you can do about it but dust your shoulders off and soldier on to the next, hopefully, better, opportunity. It’s time to do like Queen Bey and turn your lemons into lemonade because there’s so much you can take from this experience.
Think about the way you approach future jobs and learn from your mistakes. Take the time to really consider what it is that you want from your career and where you want it to take you. It may not feel like it but the fact that you’ve made it this far shows strength, courage and perseverance that you probably didn’t know you had. Be proud of where you are and look positively to the future. Oh, and good luck!
Carly Lewis is the founder and editor of career inspiration website LadyLikeYou.com
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