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How to Navigate the Emotional and Practical Challenges of Job Loss

A series in several parts - this is Part 1

· job loss,unemployment,grief cycle,stages of grief,thriving job loss

Have you ever lost your job? If you have, you know how it feels. If you haven't, well, let me tell you, it's quite an emotional experience.

I’ve had one major job loss in the 10 years I worked in the news industry, and many in the entertainment industry. The first one I wrote about a few times…first in 2018:


I started freelancing in 2003, when I was laid off from my full time job as a News Anchor for XM Satellite Radio (now Sirius XM). Management brought the entire USA Today Channel staff into a board meeting and told us that they had to let us all go, due to lack of funding. I remembered telling them, astoundingly, "You're going to lay us all off before the country goes to war?"(The Iraq War) 

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After about two years, the show was moving its production to New York City. I think my bosses asked if we wanted to move, but I don't think any of us did. So, I found myself without a job and realized that it doesn't matter if you have one that's full-time with benefits. Today, there's no such thing as true job security. I had to start over.

It was then that I had to learn how to manage my finances. I wondered how people did it? How did anyone save, pay off debts, invest for a future house or for retirement, when your income is so inconsistent, as it is in the entertainment industry?

In 2023, the job market is still in flux, and many people are still struggling to find or keep their jobs. If you're reading this, chances are you or someone you know is going through job loss right now. So, let's talk about it.

First of all, it's important to acknowledge that losing your job can be a traumatic event, both emotionally and financially. You may feel shocked, angry, sad, or numb, and that's okay. These are natural reactions to a significant change in your life. In fact, psychologists have identified five stages of grief that many people go through after job loss (and they’re very similar to the cycle of grief when a loved one passes): denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Denial: You may feel like this can't be happening to you, that it's a mistake or a misunderstanding. You may try to cling to your old routines or beliefs, hoping that things will go back to normal.

Anger: You may feel like this is unfair, that you've been treated badly or betrayed. You may blame your employer, your colleagues, or yourself for the situation.

Bargaining: You may try to negotiate with your employer or the universe, hoping that there's a way to reverse or mitigate the loss. You may also try to make deals with yourself or your loved ones, promising to change or improve if only you could get your job back.

Depression: You may feel like this is the end of the world, that you're hopeless or worthless. You may withdraw from social activities, lose interest in hobbies or self-care, or have trouble sleeping or eating.

Acceptance: You may eventually come to terms with the loss and start to see it as an opportunity or a challenge. You may start to explore new options, seek support from others, or re-evaluate your goals and values.

Of course, not everyone goes through these stages in the same order or intensity, and some people may skip or repeat some stages. But knowing that these reactions are common and normal can help you cope better with them.


So, how can you deal with the emotional and practical challenges of job loss? Here are some tips and resources that may help:

  1. Take care of yourself: This may sound simple, but it's essential. Make sure you eat well, sleep enough, exercise regularly, and avoid harmful substances or behaviors. Also, try to do things that bring you joy or relaxation, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a walk in nature. These activities can help reduce stress and boost your mood.
  2. Reach out to others: Don't isolate yourself or bottle up your feelings. Talk to your family, friends, a therapist or a trauma-informed or grief recovery coach about your experience and emotions. They can provide you with empathy, encouragement, or advice. Also, try to network with professionals in your field or industry, attend job fairs or events, or join online communities that share your interests or goals. These connections can help you stay motivated, informed, or inspired.
  3. Evaluate your finances: Losing your job can also mean losing your income and benefits. Therefore, it's important to assess your financial situation and make adjustments if necessary. Prioritize your expenses and look for alternative sources of income or assistance. Apply for unemployment benefits, health insurance through your state’s marketplace, or other forms of social support. Also, try to explore freelance or gig opportunities, start a side hustle, or monetize your skills or hobbies online. These options can help you bridge the gap between jobs or even create a new career path.
  4. Upgrade your skills: Losing your job can also be an opportunity to upgrade your skills or learn new ones. Identify the skills or certifications that are in demand in your industry or desired career, and enroll in courses, workshops, or online programs that can help you acquire or enhance them. You can also volunteer, intern, or shadow in your field or related fields to gain more experience and exposure.
  5. Stay positive: Lastly, try to stay positive and optimistic about your future. Losing your job can be a setback, but it doesn't have to define you or limit your potential. Keep a growth mindset, set realistic goals, and celebrate small wins along the way. Remember that many successful people have experienced job loss or career changes, and they have found new opportunities and meaning in their lives.

The last one may be easier said than done. So, I want you to know that I’m hosting an in-person retreat called “Thriving After Job Loss” at the end of May with my friend and Grief Recovery Specialist, Laverne McKinnon, because we want to help remind you that you're not alone, and that there are tools to help you to stay strong, focused, and hopeful. We’re only going to work with 12 people total, so that everyone can have individualized support, so let me know HERE if you're interested, and I’ll put you on the list to get all of the details first.


With Love & Gratitude,

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