Friday, January 23, 2009
SURVIVAL Part 8: The Uniqueness Factors
by Jim Davis (Print complete Job Loss Survival Guide)
Variables -- The Uniqueness Factors
Although it is helpful to realize that there are other people who are going through similar feelings and emotions, there are always variables that make each situation unique. These variables also affect the severity of the grief, the time it takes to go through it, and the effect the job loss has on your life. Some of those factors are:
The person's age. Losing a job can be devastating at any age, but for older people it can be especially difficult.
Length of time with the company. When a person has been with a company for many years, there is a much stronger sense of loss. This can be compounded when retirement is only a few years or even months away.
Whether they have been through job loss before. This may have either a positive or a negative impact. For some people, having had "practice" with job loss enables them to look at it as something they can better deal with because of their experience. For others, subsequent job losses are even more difficult to deal with.
Their feelings about the job/company. If a person has been a dedicated employee who loved their job, the job loss will probably be much more traumatic than for the person who has been dreaming of a career change. However, just because a person dislikes their job or the company they work for does not mean they will take job loss easily. Often these people have the most difficulties of all.
Their family situation. This probably has more potential variations than any of the other "variables." For example, single, young people are often considered to be able to cope relatively easily with job loss. This can be true, but their emotional ties to their family, a parent's illness, or any number of other factors make one person's experience different from another. The list of different potential family factors is practically endless. Not only are there different kinds of relationships such as those between spouses, parents and children, or brothers and sisters, but other factors such as family traditions, beliefs, and values are also involved.
The person's emotional health. Emotional health problems are more difficult for most people to deal with than physical problems, and this may be intensified by job loss. Many people see emotional problems such as depression as a "weakness" that they must hide. An additional complication of emotional health problems often results in physical problems, such as ulcers or high blood pressure, as well.
The quality/availability of support services. A number of companies now provide transition assistance to employees whose jobs are being eliminated. This assistance may include counseling, training in interviewing and job search skills, or job placement services. The type and quality of these support services varies, and in some cases amounts to only token support. And, of course, there are still many companies which offer nothing more than severance pay.
One other important thing to realize is that the stages of the grief process are variable themselves. They don't have a set duration, and they don't always occur in the same order. The importance of understanding the stages is to better understand the process. When one understands what is happening to them they can find comfort in that understanding. Proper understanding and a good support system usually are sufficient for most people to successfully go through their grief.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that just as with other types of grief, the purpose of job-loss grief is healing. It is a natural healing, and it hurts. And just as with physical healing, grief usually leaves scars. Usually, though, the scars left by grief are invisible ones. Just remember that regardless of whether scars are visible or not, they can be badges of courage or marks of despair. We each make our own decisions about which they will be.
End of Part 8