In 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book called On Death and Dying that changed the entire way that we looked at the grieving process. In the book Kubler-Ross identified five stages in the process: Denial – this isn’t happening to me, Anger – it’s not fair, Bargaining – please God, I’ll do better, Depression – what does it matter anyway, and finally, Acceptance – we had a great run now let’s look forward to the next phase.
With some perspective one can apply these same five stages to many of life’s challenges and they definitely apply to being fired.
Denial – no, there must be some mistake – they can’t fire me I’m a good person and a hard worker.
Anger – it’s not fair! I do way more work than Joe, fire him! This is discrimination!
Bargaining – there has to be another way. How about if I take a cut in pay? Could I work part-time for awhile? Maybe if I get some more training?
Depression – whatever – I’ve seen this coming – there is nothing I could have done – I probably deserved it – I should have left when Bob quit.
Acceptance – Okay, what’s done is done – time to move on and find that next job.
We all grieve at different speeds. I’ve worked with hundreds of terminated people and I almost always see these same 5 steps. Some people take months, others can fly through the range of emotions in minutes.
The deal is though, that you will not be effective in looking for a new job until you get to stage 5. While this may sound harsh, you just need to get over it and move on. You might have been discriminated against; there might have been a chance for you to take a cut in pay; maybe there was a mistake; but at the end of it all, you’re sitting at home on the couch watching Judge Judy when you should be out looking for a new job. No pitty-party, no woe is me. Get up, brush off your resume, start networking, and get to it.
Looking for a new job is a full time job. If you let your anger at your former employer come out in your interviews, no one is going to hire you. If you pout and whine during a networking meeting, no one is going to refer you to their friends. If you can’t get off the couch and make some phone calls, your network isn’t going to grow.
It’s hard, but it’s life. I’ve been there. I’ve seen many other people do it. You can too. Now get up and get to work and find that next job.