Employees on either side of a large or small staff reduction (leaving or staying) suffer terribly over losing the people with whom they may have worked for as many as 10, 25, or 30+ years. You’re allowed to feel badly, to grieve. It’s a necessary process after the experience of losing your job.

I remember working for a major chemical company in New Jersey for over eight years. My whole social life was wrapped around my job. Virtually everyone that I socialized with, drank with, ate with, skied with, and/or played tennis with was employed at the same company. When I left my company to go back to school, I remember waking up the next day and panicking about not having a job. Up to that point, I’d always had one. Already, I missed my friends, my coworkers, and some of my routines. Plus it was really hard to get used to not having easy access to all of the office supplies one could possibly need. (Don’t laugh; it’s really hard and, as you suddenly realize, expensive!)

My dad was a Captain in a National Guard artillery unit, and after spending 20 years as a weekend soldier once a month and camping out for two weeks a year, he decided to retire. My parent’s entire social life revolved around that armory—adult and kids’ parties, fashionable balls, and virtually all other social gatherings, large and small, included the people that my father served with. Even our hairdresser was a friend from the National Guard!

Jobs provide us with more than just employment. For so many, it’s an identity, a place to use our skills and talents and watch them build over time as we become more competent at them. When we lose our jobs, our lives change radically. The habitual, seemingly unimportant day-to-day rituals and things are no longer happening or there.

When my dad and I left our respective jobs, we truly felt saddened over our losses; however, we chose to leave. For employees who have little or no choice, the grief can be overwhelming. And it really is grief. It's important to acknowledge it and to allow yourself to grieve as you might over the loss of a loved one, friend or cherished pet.

Many people cannot equate job loss to be as devastating as losing a loved one. This can result in countless laid-off employees not allowing themselves to truly feel the pain and the losses they experience.

Many a relative, friend or career expert will have you jump right into finding a job—without taking time to regroup. People around you may suggest that you “look on the bright side,” “keep a stiff upper lip,” or “if it rains, let a smile be your umbrella.” However well meaning, you may feel pressure to hide your feelings. This can prevent your healing from your grief.

If you continue to deny your true feelings about your job loss and don’t allow yourself to go through the five grief stages , the stresses on your mind and body can be seriously destructive to your health.

At this time in our world, it is rare that a person has not been touched by a job loss of their own or of someone close to them. The stigma that was once there is very rarely, if ever, expressed. Feel what you need to feel. Let it out. Talk to people who are close to you and who will let you go through what you need to. Eat well, drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids, exercise, and rest. Practice extreme self care. Kinda sounds like your mom, doesn’t it?

Whether you lost your job or kept your job in an employee lay-off, give yourself time to grieve. You need it, you deserve it, and you’ll come out on the other side a much stronger person.

Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful:

The Grief Blog http://thegriefblog.com/grief-counseling/dealing-with-grief/
What Is Job Loss Grief? http://members.tripod.com/~jobnet/joblossb.htm
Coping with Grief and Loss: Guide to Grieving and Bereavement http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm
Grief and Loss http://home.att.net/~velvet-hammer/grief.html

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Titus-Hall is President of PeopleGrowth, LLC, and a certified professional co-active coach with a varied background in guiding individuals and groups in career transition and communications coaching and training. She has worked closely with individuals making life transitions. Peg received her coaching training and coaching certification through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) in 2005, and she is accredited through the International Coach Federation (ICF) as an Associate Certified Coach. You can reach Peg at her website: peoplegrowthllc.com. She hosts The Career Coach, an online web radio program focusing on managing your career transition from all sides. The Career Coach airs LIVE on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. at thecareercoach.ning.com.