This month marks a year since I was told I was going to be laid off from the company that I worked at for over a decade. In June 2016, I was told that my now former company was outsourcing my department and that I would no longer have a job in four months. This was extremely hard news to hear, and even worse to accept.
Continuing to work became increasingly stressful. I was grateful to have advanced warning that my job would be coming to an end, but at the same time seeing that target date get closer and closer caused a lot of anxiety and worry. By the time my last day happened, I felt a sense of relief. The inevitable was finally here, and now it was up to me to push forward.
What I didn’t expect was the rollercoaster of emotions that would follow.
When you face getting laid off you will go through the five stages of grief. Yes, you read that right. I didn’t believe it either when I was told it would happen, but as the time passed, I began to realize I was going through it. I am going to explain what a layoff is like and how it relates to the five stages of grief in hopes that it will help anyone who may be facing a situation like this.
Stage One: Denial and Isolation
While every circumstance is different, it all leads to the same result: job loss. When you are first told you will no longer be employed because of layoffs it is a little unsettling. For me, I went over the words multiple times, and while I initially reacted and cried, I didn’t believe it. It was like I was in shock, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be around anyone. Maybe I handle my grief differently, but all I wanted to do was be alone.
You can deny that it is happening all that you want, but you will eventually face the reality that you are being laid off. You will likely get up and continue your normal routine, only to realize that your routine has changed. It takes a while to realize that things have changed.
Stage Two: Anger
If it isn’t immediate, expect the anger to come. It will likely come on like a whirlwind and may be a surprise. You will start to feel like you gave your all to the company and they just betrayed you. You will be offended they let you go when other people that didn’t work as hard as you. You will be mad at the people that decided your job was no longer important to the company. Your anger will likely stem from the fact that you feel unappreciated.
There is a large part of me that says you have the right to be angry, but the reality is that anger is not helpful or productive to your well-being. So while you will go through this phase, don’t let it consume you.
Stage Three: Bargaining
There will be a point in time where you will start questioning what happened and your service to the company. You may ask yourself what you could have done to change the path you are on. You may begin to think that if you worked a little bit harder or if you didn’t call in that one last time that your position wouldn’t have been eliminated, but I can assure it has nothing to do with your performance. If the company didn’t think you were performing well, they would fire you and replace you. When you are laid off, the company is eliminating the position altogether. So questioning what you could have done differently isn’t productive.
Don’t get me wrong, no matter how much you try to avoid it; you will eventually question a little bit. Just try not to get stuck on it. We have to realize it isn’t the lack of quality work or something that we have done that caused our position to be eliminated. The reason the position has been eliminated is more than likely because the company needs to save money.
Stage Four: Depression
As your applying for new jobs, your moods will be like a rollercoaster. One day you will have an interview that you know you killed it so you will be soaring high and the next day you could bomb one and hit the low. You could get a lot of rejections and go a week without an interview at all. There will be days when you don’t feel like you are skilled enough and that you will never find another job, but there will also be days that you feel untouchable, and anyone will be lucky to have you on staff.
Just know that the ups and downs are normal, but if you find yourself in a constant state of down, you should consider speaking to someone about it. Slight depression is normal, but you shouldn’t always be down.
Stage Five: Acceptance
The final state is acceptance. There will be a day when everything just falls into place, and you will accept what has happened. You will be centered, and you will be able to move forward, knowing that you are going to be ok. This may be when you get a new job, this could just be when you have an epiphany, or this could be the day your confidence spikes. No one can tell when the acceptance will come, but when it does, you know that you have survived a difficult time in your life. Once acceptance comes, you will be able to breathe easier.
Have you ever been laid off and did you experience something similar to this?