Whether due to restructuring, redundancy or professional misconduct, a job loss is inherent to professional life. Often underestimated, the resulting shock is a real trauma and can lead to post-traumatic stress equivalent to an accident or assault. How can you cope with it?
Leaving a job overnight is a traumatic event for anyone who is the victim. The shock is even greater with seniority in the company. Pierrette Desrosiers, a labour psychologist specializing in family businesses, explains that the newly unemployed person goes through phases comparable to a breakup: “denial, then anger, sadness, anxiety, and also the fantasy of being able to get the job back, the possibility of renegotiating a return…”
The more that has been invested, the harder it is. “It’s like a rejection,” says the labour psychologist. “You lose self-esteem, are afraid of being judged, since you are assessed according to your work there is a fear of never being competent again.”
Two ways of reacting
Depending on their character, people who lose their job will either rationalize it and see it as the opportunity for a new beginning, or collapse. “Each time you experience a crisis, some will come out stronger and others more bitter,” says Pierrette Desrosiers.
To cope with this situation, it is advisable to take the time to grieve for the job before moving on. The risk is to trivialize the event and throw oneself body and sole into a new job. According to the psychologist, loss of a job affects the desire to make a total commitment. “If your spouse deceived you, for example, you’re not going to jump into the next relationship with both feet!” It takes time to realize the shock, welcome emotions and think about a strategy to bounce back later.
Tell it or hide it from the children?
Children will no doubt notice that one of their parents is not going to work any more, that there is a certain tension prevailing in the house. According to the labour psychologist, letting the children know is the best way: “Being a role model, the unemployed parent has the opportunity to teach their children that despite life’s difficulties, we can overcome, that we must be strong and confident in the future. This is also a good time to instill their self-esteem. Even if one does not have power over certain situations, we must never let a company or a person determine what one is worth!”
Losing a job is a real trauma not to be taken lightly. “We must keep in mind that after clouds, the sun comes out… but we must accept the heavy rain between the two!”