Recovering from job loss

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Almost daily, newspaper headlines and television news programs are filled with talk of another company merger or another plant closing.

When companies merge or are bought out by other companies, inevitably jobs are realigned, altered or eliminated.

Job loss can be devastating, both emotionally and financially, for the hundreds of workers who are told weekly that their jobs will be terminated says Dr. Jacquelyn Robinson, a community workforce development specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

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"Grieving over a job loss is only natural, especially when the person losing the job is not at fault.

The stages of job loss grief are similar to those experienced when there is a death of a family member," Robinson said.

There are two aspects of job loss:

the practical and the emotional.

The reality of job loss is dealing with loss of income and benefits until gainfully employed again.

Emotionally, the consequences of losing a job are just as real.

The self-image and selfnworth may be damaged, while fears about the future and the ability to meet financial commitments may be overwhelming.

Many worry about how they are viewed by others.

The manifestations of job loss are real and can be debilitating, Robinson says.

Some symptoms of job loss grief include increased stress, feeling defeated, being at odds with family members more frequently or being sick more often.

Robinson says there are ways to overcome the feelings of hopelessness and desperation after the loss of a job.

She offers the following suggestions:

Take time to grieve.

Coping with and getting through any type of grief take time.

Even though you may be restructuring your life around an imposed career change, it is important to acknowledge your grief.

Keep a diary on how you feel, both good and bad, for at least a month.

Confronting your fears, hurt and frustration may be the first step to healing the hurt.

Remember successes experienced on the previous job, the good times you had with coworkers and the characteristics you like most about yourself.

Exercise regularly.

Vigorous exercise on a regular basis helps reduce stress levels and lessen the day-to-day irritants.

Form a new daily routine to follow until you find your next job.

Routines help clear the mind, keep productivity high and promote a feeling of usefulness.

Form a support group among your friends and your family.

Socialize with those who care.

It is helpful knowing you are not alone and that the feelings you are having are normal.

Being around others is a very important part of the healing process.

Friends and family also may provide valuable leads on prospective jobs.