Stages of loss and rebounding

Individuals react to the loss of employment the same way they react to the loss of anything significant in their lives – they grieve. This emotional process can be broken into several distinct stages: shock, denial, fear, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and enthusiasm. Not everyone moves through these stages; individuals who do may experience strong feelings before reaching a state of acceptance and a desire to move ahead enthusiastically.

  • Shock: Shock can be a very unsettling experience, and, to help us cope with unpleasantness, it can lead us into the next stage, denial.
  • Denial: By denying that an event has occurred, we can “buy time” until we are able to progress toward acceptance.
  • Fear: Fear is a healthy protective reaction that alerts us to impending challenges. At least some degree of fear is common in the career transition process, as people find themselves constantly in new situations.
  • Anger: Often triggered by feelings of betrayal, anger can also be a healthy emotional response as it indicates what we value. Anger is a great mover and can energize us for action.
  • Bargaining: This stage often involves an attempt to resolve the situation by trying to reverse it or to bring it to a desired level. The individual needs to come to terms with the separation and move on through the process.
  • Depression: Depression often emerges as the individual begins to acknowledge the finality of what has happened and contemplates the future.
  • Acceptance: Acceptance occurs when the individual acknowledges what has taken place and is ready to work toward a resolution of the situation earnestly. Overall, his or her focus is positive and energetic.
  • Enthusiasm: In this stage, the individual’s confidence is restored, and he or she enthusiastically conducts a search, focusing on options and opportunities.