Dealing with Business or Job Loss - Allow Yourself to Grieve

I have talked to a large number of people who were laid off over the course of my career.  One thing I have consistently noticed is that the vast majority have not yet moved on - they are still emotionally stuck in their previous job.  And, yes, I am deliberately using the words "laid off."  I believe that 'in transition' is a euphemism that doesn't do anyone other than the company who laid off the person in question any good.  It's an effort to shield you from the pain or stigma of being laid off.  In other words, any effort to avoid dealing with the emotional consequences of being forced out of a job you didn't choose to leave.  The same holds true if your business failed.  My guess is that you would have chosen to have it succeed.

Yes, some people take classes and change careers, but even most of those do so out of reaction - not from the basis of desire.  Do you think this is a very powerful way to live your life?   More the opposite.  What you choose out of fear isn't very likely to be what you really want.  It's either going to put you right where you were before you got laid off, or in an even worse situation.

Not only that, but when you do go on interviews, you take all the emotional baggage of the last job and how it ended with you.  Trust me, this does not make for a good or exciting interview.  It will also make it a lot more difficult to get said job.  Even if you don't say anything, you will still be projecting and filtering based on that previous job.  It's a lot like going on date with someone right after they broke up with their significant other.   Might be not be bad, but not someone you'd want to get into a relationship with. 

Allowing yourself to to through the full grieving process after a job or business loss allows you to process all the emotions and thoughts that come up so that you can move on and base your future and your planning on what you want, not what has happened in the past.  You will be able to be excited and interested in what's happening instead of what's in the past.  The last job or business is like last week's lunch.  It may have been a great meal, but you don't necessarily remember what you had.   Wouldn't you rather be excited about your future?

No one really talks about grieving in relationship to job or business loss.  Generally people are just expected to move on immediately.  Here's the rub - we're not robots, we're human.  Your relationship to your job or especially business may have been more long-standing than your relationship to your spouse or children, and just as close in many ways.   And not only don't we talk about it,  most people haven't a clue HOW to grieve and move on.  We're not taught deal with grief effectively in most cases when it comes to people and pets, much less jobs.   Has anyone ever told you "Don't feel bad, there's other jobs"  or something similar?   It wasn't particularly helpful, was it?

The best resource I've seen yet for dealing with loss (whether it's a job, a pet, a spouse, etc.)  is the Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russell Friedman.  It actually defines grief and forgiveness and walks you through a fairly straightforward process for dealing with loss.    I came across it through the book When Children Grieve, also by John James and Russell Friedman.  I checked When Children Grieve out of the library to help my son deal with our dog, who has cancer.  I  knew that what I learned about loss and grieving from my parents was not helpful to me (it basically consisted of "Don't talk about it") and I wanted to do better with my son.   When Children Grieve was immensely helpful in giving me some tools to work with my son, but it was also invaluable to look at where I hadn't dealt with loss in my own life.   

I highly recommend purchasing the book or checking it out of the library.  I can't do justice to the full process in a blog post.  You can also visit the website at www.grief-recovery.com.

My advice is work through your job or business loss before moving on to what's next.