The Why and How of Grief After Redundancy
Do people really experience true grief after redundancy People expect to grieve when it comes to bereavement, divorce and break-ups, but the pure brutality of grief after being made redundant can knock the wind out of you so fully that you may question if you will ever get back on course…
There is a theoretical framework to the process of grieving. This involves circling through denial, anger, bargaining, sadness or depression, and finally acceptance. The world at large seems to have adopted these as a pathway through the turbulence of grief of any kind. Yet even the framework’s originator, Elisabeth Kubler Ross, was annoyed at how this has simplified grief when it is much more complicated. (Incidentally this framework was created after studies with people who were terminally ill and facing the grief of dying, not the bereaved)
Comforting it may be, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the havoc it might wreak on your own life. In my work as a career psychologist and coach, I often help people who are struggling with “Wicked Problems” that keep them stuck. On a global level, Wicked Problems are constantly changing issues that are extremely difficult to solve. Grief is one such “problem”. It can’t be solved. Even when we feel like we have a hold on it – we can get through a day without a wobble— it can sometimes eke out into our dreams. There is no escape.
Here are some things to watch out for…
Some friends will be there, some won’t
At times like these it will be the ones that let you talk about how you are feeling, that don’t want to move the conversation onto something lighter, or want us to be “normal”. Some friends may skirt around your grief as though it’s something not to be talked about. They may act as if it might possibly infect them.
Look to the ones that allow you to slowly spill out your grief. The people who let you be weak, and sad, and hold the space for you. I have had clients who have been made redundant after a long period of service who talk about “being totally crumpled by grief,”. Those clients who had someone who understood the impact of what was happening to them moved forward quicker
Be prepared for the sheer confusion of it all. The torture of having to concentrate on job applications when you want to curl up and never think about work again. The sense of loss that hits at odd intervals. The unexpected tiredness of dealing with it all. Grief in any form takes its toll on the body, lowering immunity and raising stress levels. Self-care is vital at this time, even more so that usual.
Not allowing yourself the gift of grief after redundancy
You may be reading this and thinking none of this applies to me, I just want to get on with my life and find a job. Taking action is vitally important, but it’s also wise to let grief have its moment. Allow yourself some time to feel bad, to moan, rant and rail, whatever it looks like for you. This is going to help you move on.
It will be different
Your experience of redundancy is not going to be the same as your colleagues. You may find this a lonely experience, even if you are grieving with others. Your family may be worried about the consequences more than your feelings. Some of your work-mates may even be looking upon this as a good thing. It could be a way for them to move onto something more positive. Do not judge yourself by where your colleagues may be. If one of them is already getting interviews and you’ve barely managed to get your CV together, do not beat yourself up about it. Everyone’s time frame may be different and sometimes what we need most is time – time to really think about what comes next.
Any kind of grief is a mourning for something or someone that will never be again. The flipside of this is that there is a brand new future on its way.
Paula Gardner is a career psychologist and coach and the founder of The Redundancy Recovery Hub. Author of The Career Pause and Pivot, Paula regularly coaches clients around moving forwards after redundancy. Paula changed career mid-life, after running her own PR and marketing agency. Her USP is her real life experience as well as psychology and coaching know how.
Book a career or redundancy coaching session with Paula, read The Career Pause and Pivot, or join The Hub to benefit from monthly personal coaching, redundancy clinics, and PEP talks to keep up your motivation and stay on track with your job-hunting.