Terminated Illegally (6)? Five Stages of Loss

Being a victim of termination rarely ranks high on the list of pleasantries. For many, the psychological and emotional distress caused by the loss of employment manifests itself physically. For those on the wrong side of a termination, no doubt you feel me.

The common stages of loss (employment included) many people experience are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Let’s highlight the five stages and examine David’s distress:

Denial: Quite often, the first reaction to learning you’ve been fired or let go is to deny that it is really happening. It’s normal to do this; in fact, it helps you get over the shock. This stage is usually brief and is only meant to carry you to the next step.

David: “Prior to the termination meeting, I felt comfortable. Heck, the email invitation from Bertha did not appear threatening… truth is, I was sucker-punched, to say the least. Once the axe came down, I thought that there was no way this was happening. After all, I’ve had only positive feedback from students, staff, and Bertha herself. And then to be showcased out like an animal on display; the cruelty and total dehumanization presented by Bertha was evil; pure and simple.”

Anger: As denial fades, the reality of the situation often comes back in an emotional and fearful way. It is at this time the concern over how you can pay bills is most pressing.

David: “Though the money was marginal, it was counted on for diapers, milk, and basic necessities. Yes, upset and angry over the process remains weeks later, especially when I allow myself to think about the over-powering and poisonous level of immorality by Bertha, her non-emotional glare, and her sense of snugness. I am feeling better but can’t sleep soundly as I keep replaying the way I was treated like a roach.”

Bargaining: Anger often makes one feel helpless. In order to regain control, it is common to begin making deals and thinking of what could have happened. Thoughts such as “If only I didn’t show up late that one day,” or “If only I was nicer to my boss,” or “maybe if I had agreed to more hours,” toss around our minds and add to sleepless nights. Making up “if’s” is another step to coping with a tough situation. After the “what if’s” run through your head and conversations, most people fall into the next step without realizing it.

David: “I don’t really have too many “what if’s” as the ambush came to me as a total bombshell. I did nothing wrong, falling victim to a mentally instable reptile in disguise… a reptile inebriated by delusion.”

Depression: This occurs when the loss is hitting you the hardest. Loss is a difficult thing to cope with, especially when you realize there’s nothing you can do to get it back. Questions like “How am I going to pay my bills?” “Where will I find another job?” “What do I do now?” “How can I stay positive when all I get is rejection?” can take control of your thoughts. It is at this time that keeping busy and not giving into depression is extremely important.

David: “No doubt depression hits hard and it is hitting me harder than expected. I know I was bringing good to many and not being allowed to share remains the most difficult part for me. Yeah, it’s hard to be positive after this treatment. Quite honestly, the depression continues to cause migraines, sleepless nights, mental irritation, emotional injury, and physical difficulties as well. Unfortunately, over the past two weeks I’ve also gained ten pounds… my cardiologist is not happy.”

Acceptance: This stage is a gift that is not easily given to everyone and is not on a set time table. Acceptance means that you understand why you were let go, even if you don’t agree with the reasons, and this allows you to continue on with your life and career in a positive way.

David: “I’m not there yet. I don’t agree with the reasons as they were muddled by semantics. No doubt I will get over this travesty and the level of support by way of emails and calls has been a true blessing. For those, thank you for allowing a few sparks of light to enter a world smothered by forced apathy.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages of Grief” mentioned above categorizes what many experience due to job loss. David’s reaction fits the process, and I look forward to where his journey takes us all.

Next time we’ll be delving deeper into the five stages of loss, focusing attention to those who have experienced a job loss and developing a way to refocus the pain into a more positive and progressive step to career success… you don’t want to miss our next episode.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how ECS can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Education Career Services Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com


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