Death is Not the Only Source of Grief
The loss of a loved one is the most intense grief that a person can experience. However, there are other losses in life that also produce grief.
For example, if you know someone that has health problems and can no longer care for himself, you know that loss of independence is extremely difficult and stressful.
Loss of your job creates real grief.
Surprise! Grief Happens As Soon As You Know
Grief begins when you learn of an impending loss. Some people call it anticipatory grief or preparatory grief. It is the same as grief that occurs when a loss is actual. Some people are surprised by the emotional aspect of this time of grieving, because they thought it wouldn’t hit them until after the loss.
Loss of Identity Precedes Loss of Income
What kind of worker doesn’t personally invest himself into his work activity, doesn’t take pride in what he does? A bad worker.
Humans identify with activity. Therefore, even before you experience the loss of income, when you are told that you won’t be doing your job anymore, expect to feel some self-questioning. “If I’m not a (previous job assignment), then what am I? ”
The level of emotional investment varies with the depth to which you perceive your work. Factor in the amount of time spent developing your career, the amount of education required, the amount of personal resources you have used.
- “My job is merely a mundane task. I don’t care.” You may not have much grief.
- “My work is my career. I have worked hard to get where I am.” You should expect a great deal of grief.
- “My work is a special calling. I have sacrificed everything to answer that call.” Massive loss invites massive grief.
When a supervisor decides that your services are no longer necessary, you are being told that your work was unimportant. You are being rejected. No wonder you feel anxious. Your professional life has a great impact on your personal life, no matter how much you try to separate them.
An important aspect of your job is working as a team member. Some teams act as families to each other providing emotional support that is vital to your well-being. It can be devastating to lose those relationships.
A career change is a change in your daily routine. Our small daily routines create a larger stability and steadfastness in our lives. Routines relieve stress. Change produces stress.
Along with anxiety, stress and grief produce a lot of emotions: shock, anger, guilt, blaming, denial, profound sadness. If you allow it, grief from job loss can damage your personal and family relationships. Grief can damage your ability to move forward and find a new job.
Coping with Anxiety and Stress
- Don’t react immediately to the negative emotions of grief. You may burn some bridges that you will need in the future. Try to leave on the best terms possible. Take the high road, no matter what road others take. The period of intensity of grief will pass, so don’t stay there. Move forward with dignity.
- Focus on building positive relationships at home. Your spouse is your greatest resource in coping well during grief. Research has shown that a kiss a day produces chemical changes in your body and lowers the effects of stress. Bring as much sunshine into the room as possible.
- Ask a trusted friend to come alongside you and assess your feelings of rejection. A good friend or even a professional can give you a more objective opinion. Identify one flaw that you can change to improve. Identify issues that were exaggerated, blown out of proportion, that were used to manipulate you into feeling that the severance was all your fault. Identify issues that were completely fabricated against you. Decide to deal with the real problems, minimize the exaggerated ones, and ignore the lies.
- Update your resume and create a list of your marketable skills. Get really creative as you assess your skills. Include your abilities to perceive situations, cope with changes, set goals and implement improvements in the workplace. Include personality traits that would make you a desired team member. As you look over this list, imagine a job that fulfills your talents more than a job that merely pays the bills.
- Keep your eyes open to identify resources that bring stability into your life. Create a new daily routine until a new job finds you. Serve in your community and experience the reward of giving selflessly. Participate more in your community of faith. Exercise, do yard work, fix stuff.
- React to hopelessness by reaching out for professional help. If your sadness swells to depression, talk to a qualified person. This is especially important if you have a history of depression.
The Bible Reveals the Truth About Grief
Look to the Scriptures during grief.
Many characters in the Bible faced and coped with loss. Job lost everything and held on to his integrity before God. Naomi’s loss of husband and sons preceded the birth of king David. Hannah grieved for children that she did not have and asked God to give her Samuel. David’s sin resulted in loss and intense grief. David poured his grieving heart out to God. His psalms encourage us to do the same. Tell God how you feel and trust His faithfulness as you go through grief.
Look to Jesus during grief.
Jesus wept as he experienced the grief of Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus was a man acquainted with grief; he is moved by our feelings of weakness.
Look to the Holy Spirit during grief.
Remember that Jesus sent a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will give you a refreshing new perspective on life and God’s purpose for your life.
God has a purpose for your grief. It is a time to regain stability so that joy can return. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.