Want to help someone through a job loss?

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Lost Your Marbles Lately? 


Probably the world’s greatest expert on the subject of death and dying was Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whose definitive book, “ON DEATH AND DYING” has now become a true classic in the worlds of psychology, psychotherapy, social work, and caregiver counseling. 

     So what?  What does that have to do with your job, or the job of someone close to you going down the tubes?  A lot! 

     The dynamics that Kübler-Ross devoted her life to studying are the same for virtually ANY loss.

     So, the “5 Stages” of death and dying that she defined apply to loss of life, loss of limb or function, loss of possessions, loss of health, loss of friendship, loss of a spouse or parent or child, loss of a home, loss of money, loss of a pet, loss of business, and –yes– loss of a job.

The 5 Stages are, in order of occurrence:

  1. Denial and isolation

  2. Anger

  3. Bargaining

  4. Depression

  5. Acceptance

The ultimate goal for any of us when we experience loss, has to be to move through the first four Stages as quickly as possible, and get ourselves to that 5th Stage point of Acceptance.

     Some succeed at this.  Some get stuck at Stages 1, 2, 3, or 4 along the way.  [Thes would probably be the majority.]  Some never make it to Stage 5 Acceptance, ever, and live the rest of their lives, for example, angry or depressed.  Those who don’t achieve a sense of Acceptance (as well as those who do but who require a particularly long time to get there) set themselves up to be in an emotionally unhealthy place in life.

     What is it that makes these failures and long delays emotionally unhealthy?  Denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, and depression all live in fantasyland.  The only reality there is on Earth is the one that is happening right this very split second as you are reading these words and thinking about them.  It’s a state of balance and harmony.  It means being focused on the present moment as much as possible.

     Often a “rescuer” or professional “coach” is needed to assist the sufferer of a loss in accelerating and smoothing the way to transition, to Acceptance.  If you want to help someone through a loss event or loss period of time, you must be prepared to be extraordinarily patient, empathetic (putting yourself in her or his shoes) and encouraging. 

     You need to help the individual or group or family pass through each stage and let go of each stage before moving to the next level, and to help him/her/them from slipping backwards.  Keeping those with loss issues and upsets focused on the immediate present moment that’s in front of their faces as much of the time as possible can be frustrating and emotionally draining for the helper(s). 

     It is not always an easy task and –while I heartedly recommend that responsibility for this function is best left to professionals who are trained to provide proper guidance— you can always lend a support system to encourage pursuit of professional assistance, and you can help prompt a sharper “here and now” awareness level simply by keeping your SELF focused on the present, and calling attention to it.     halalpiar

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