Monday, August 30, 2010

Losing a Job- Like the Five Stages of Grief

Cross-posted and archived from DC Metro Moms.  Original post date July 25, 2008.

It has been one month since my husband walked through our front door suddenly unemployed. Laid off. One month of us spending time together as a family, having long, quiet talks about everything from the state of our finances, job searching and health insurance quandaries to who we are as a family.

During this past month we have frozen our gym memberships, eliminated contributions to our daughter's college fund and taken away all of life's tiny luxuries that we often take for granted when stockpiling unnecessary items at the grocery store, Target and almost everywhere else. It's been all about less waste and less consumption this past month and we are probably all the better for it. I have however noticed one small thing.

Losing a job is similar to the five stages of grief. Since December my husband knew that lay-offs were occurring in his company. He also knew that he was no longer happy there yet he was right smack in the middle of the land of Denial. He refused to believe that he would be laid off anytime soon. It did not matter how stressed out I became with the possible situation. He was like a petulant toddler. I could not rip the mask of denial from his eyes and make him see that he needed to begin looking for work elsewhere.

As more cutbacks were made and more people eliminated step number two kicked in, Anger. His refusal to see the situation in its true light turned into anger about the situation in general and about having to look for more work. Nothing could make him happy. There would be no standard talks or even pleas to begin finding another job. He claimed he just didn't feel "compelled or motivated enough" to do so. To say that the anger was his and his alone at this point would be an understatement. I was infuriated by this lack of "motivation". It was a bit like trying to get a toddler to do something they really don't want to do, like potty training.

Suddenly, once the iron fist of full unemployment weighed down on him he was on to step three lickety split. Bargaining. Here is where my husband promised that he would no longer work on our real estate investment company's business while doing his next job. It was the quickest of the stages and produced one of my favorite results. Less burnout on his behalf, no longer working two jobs, with me in no way capable of keeping up relieved a lot of stress from our lives. It also reminded me of the tactics my daughter uses just before bedtime. "One more story Mommy? I will go to bed after one more story, I promise..."

This brings us to stage four, Depression. I wish I could say this one was swift as well, but it wasn't. For about one day a week if not more a funk would set in, especially the first week, and my normally happy- go-lucky, talkative spouse would suddenly decide that living in our basement/cave was the best place for him. He would skulk around the house staying up late at night forever staring at job boards on the computer screen becoming almost green from the glow. Growling and grunting became his standard forms of communication followed by long periods of complete silence and staring. As companies began to notice his resume and he garnered interviews the depression lifted and he became a bit more like his old self. If however, he didn't hear anything for a few days post-interview, we were right back into the land of depression.

The final stage, Acceptance is the most gratifying when it comes to job loss. With it has come extreme motivation to find a new job and some actual job offers it seems. While we are not out of the woods yet, health insurance won't kick in until October 1 and my pregnant butt still has to rely on the uber-expensive COBRA plan, we have found that we have not only do we stick together like glue but we have been lucky in this unemployed situation. Oh, and one more thing. That the five stages of grief are also akin to one full day living with a toddler.


MamaBird/SurelyYouNest said...

I was on COBRA while pregnant too (blechhh). Made me think long and hard about how lucky I was to have health insurance at all. Great post - hang in there, I'm impressed by your sense of humor and taking it all in stride *as a family*.

Reply July 25, 2008 at 11:37 AM Karen Waters said...

My husband was fired from his job of over 15 years two days after Christmas. I was shell-shocked, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. He opened his own business and is still running it successfully 8 years later.

I hope your husband's layoff turns out as positive as ours did!


Reply July 25, 2008 at 11:49 AM Andrea said...

You seem to be handling it very well, even while pregnant, and it sounds like some of the stresses are lifting. You're still in my thoughts.

Reply July 25, 2008 at 12:31 PM Liza said...

Ok, this post reminded me of why I love the Internet, and this community in particular.

Today marks the 2 week anniversary of my being told that I'm getting laid off, effective mid-September. C-section #2 is scheduled for 5 weeks from today, 2 weeks before layoff date.

Thanks for making me feel less alone.

Reply July 25, 2008 at 01:53 PM feener said...

ok, this post scares me b/c my hubby's company has been laying off for almost 2 years. he feels the pressure yet he has not sent one resume out. i have tried coaxing him...i always get 'i will soon' never to happen.

Reply July 25, 2008 at 03:08 PM BananaBlueberry said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

If it is any consolation- I know that I could not write such an eloquent and articulate post about my husband being laid off- while being pregnant.

Again, you have always been 'that smart upbeat mom' to me...

I'm thinking about you :)

Reply July 27, 2008 at 06:18 PM Vicky said...

Wow- everyone thank you so much for the continued support and belief in me and my family. It means so much and it makes me well up with emotion.

I guess I don't know how else to be besides trying to be upbeat at this point. I spent the months before the lay off sleepless and stressed over it's possibility and now there is nothing left in that dept. for me to give.

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