No. That’s a simple truth. And, trust me, I tried.

The harder I tried, the harder I hit rock bottom. So, I had to start working through it at my own pace.

As it is when you lose a loved one, losing a job can have a similar impact. It amplifies the longer you were at that company because we spend more hours at work than we do at home. Like it or not, our job is our second home and is just as important.

Grieving work

An old client of mine recently lost her job as a customer service manager after working for the same company for over 20 years. She was in shock, felt overwhelmed and had trouble getting out of bed so she came to me for advice.

My advice was to give herself time to adjust and to not bottle up her feelings. Even the most unpleasant feelings will pass in time. Try to look for any silver linings. Maybe this lay off is an opportunity to reflect on what she wants out of life and rethink her career priorities. Perhaps it will make her stronger. If you look, you will always be able to find something of value.

Resilience shines through

When we lose a job, we lose a family. Tack on feelings of rejection and a loss of confidence, and it’s a perfect storm. Grief kicks in to remind us that change has come, and we need to reach deep down to find our resilience. Willpower is useless here. It is too rational and relies heavily on the story you tell yourself, which is not necessarily true. Resilience works at a basic level and taps into your survival instinct.

One of the issues that tested my resilience when my husband passed (I will never get used to writing this, even though it has been true for months now), was my loss of identity. When we are in a relationship for many years – be it personal or professional – it becomes a part of us. When we lose it, we grieve it, but we also question and try to hold on to things that have not changed. This last part is hard.

For 13 years, I was the wife of a senior executive at Pastene. That was my identity. I catch myself still speaking of him in the present tense. Do I speak about my “late” husband? What do I call him? What’s our relationship now, and where does this leave me? Rationally, I’m clearly not the wife of the Pastene CEO, but the shift must be acknowledged in order for me to accept it… to define it. To redefine myself. It feels like starting at square one again. Does that sound familiar?

Back to square one

Throughout our lifetime, we all start at square one at some point. Some call it rock bottom, others have a better time navigating challenging times. The most beautiful and empowering thing we can do for ourselves is tap into our resilience and keep living life to the fullest.

Working on myself and picking myself back up has been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. In some ways, I feel like I am back at square one. I do have a wonderful support system around me, fulfilling work and beautiful children. In many ways, I’m blessed. I still feel like I can do more, which is why I’m pursuing my international certification in life coaching. I want to have the tools to help others overcome grief and chance, because we shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time.

Ask me about life coaching.