Coping With Job Loss

Dealing With the Emotional Turmoil of Losing Your Job


So, it finally happened. All of the headlines and statistics about the current economic crisis have become personal: you've been laid off.

Given the intensity of the stress you're likely to be experiencing right now, it helps to know what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. After all, the more you know, the better equipped you'll be to handle the ups and downs that you're likely to face.

The Five Stages of Loss

In a famous piece of research, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five different stages of grief that people go through when mourning the death of a loved one. Sure, losing a job, being made redundant, or being fired, may not be quite as upsetting as this, however it can be a profoundly unhappy and stressful experience, and it can help to think in terms of Kübler-Ross's stages. These are:

  1. Denial.
  2. Anger.
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance.

From ON DEATH AND DYING by Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Copyright © 1969 by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross; copyright renewed © 1997 by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Reprinted with the permission of Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Not everyone experiences each stage the same way, or in the same time frame. You might skip a stage, or spend a long time in one stage and move quickly through the next one.

Also, your age and life situation might partly determine how long you spend in each stage, or whether you experience a certain stage at all. A younger worker with no mortgage payments and no children may experience denial and self-criticism, but then skip directly to acceptance. Workers who have more responsibilities might take longer to move to the acceptance stage, simply because more stress is involved.

Let's look at the stages in more detail, and think about what you can do to cope with each one.


This article is about coping with the immediate emotional fallout of losing a job. For tips and advice on what to do next and how to bounce back, see our article How to Recover From Job Loss.

See the transcript of our coping with job loss video.


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