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How Do You Cope With Losing
by the American Counseling Association
Every day we read of more companies laying off workers. While job loss may have been a
fear for many last year, today’s troubled economic climate has made it a reality for millions.
While losing a job may bring financial problems for most people, it’s also important to
understand it can also bring significant mental and emotional stress.
For many people, losing a job brings reactions similar to the pattern experienced in the
death of a loved one or the end of a relationship. A first reaction is usually one of shock
and denial, of being unable to believe this has really happened.
That’s often followed by anger. And while the source of that anger may be those who took
away your job, most times the anger is taken out on those close to you. You may find
yourself tense, more easily upset and quicker to react to family and friends.
You may also go through a stage of “bargaining,” a preoccupation with trying to get that old
job back, no matter how unrealistic or even undesirable that might be. At the same time you
may experience sadness and depression as you question your worth and abilities.
It’s important to recognize that these are all normal reactions. Understanding that can help
you get through those stages quicker, accept the loss and start creating a new work life.
You can help yourself by trying to avoid adding extra stress to your life. Tell family and
friends what’s happened and what you’re feeling, so they can help. Eat healthy, exercise,
get plenty of rest and keep socially involved, rather than withdrawing from those close to
you. Avoid sudden, rash major life decisions and changes.
Instead, carefully evaluate and set future goals. Do you need more education, to look to a
new career field or to sharpen up your job skills? Evaluate what will make you feel
rewarded and fulfilled in a new job. Are you using your network of family, friends and other
contacts to help in your job search? Rather than dwelling on the lost job, focus on a positive
Losing a job, especially one you’ve held for a long time, can bring real trauma and stress to
anyone. If you find you’re being overwhelmed by the experience, seek professional help. A
counseling professional can provide stress management, career guidance and other
services to help you handle this loss and move on to a more positive future.
“The Counseling Corner” is provided as a public service by the American Counseling
Association, the nation’s largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more
about the counseling profession at the ACA web site, www.counseling.org.