Call Us (303) 721-0005 .:. Skype

Healing from Job Loss Denver Post Story

Control the emotional roller coaster after a job loss

By Marywyn Germaine

Marywyn Germaine is a writer in The Denver Post’s Creative Services Department


job loss

One of the toughest aspects of being newly unemployed is dealing with grieving the change, you might find yourself on an emotional roller coaster. These emotions are perfectly natural. Psychologists tell us a job loss brings the equivalent stress and grieving as the loss of a loved one, a difficult divorce or experiencing a disaster.

If you’re surprised, don’t be, suggests Louann Hillesland, M.A., LPC, a psychotherapist and owner of Counseling Connection in Centennial. “Losing your job creates a change in your role, your status and your family system. It’s not unusual to experience multiple dimensions of grief, which might mean denial, depression, feeling lost, confused, hurt, angry, confused, helpless and hopeless. These feelings often turn on and off, along with resentment, jealousy, possible social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, and perhaps even a feeling of relief.”

It’s important to look for a balance during this ride. Hillesland recommends taking time to acknowledge your feelings — whether it’s daily or once a week — talk with someone you trust or share with friends. Your goal is to eventually release yourself and others: “To forgive, let go and move on,” she advises.

Alexander Graham Bell sums it up: “When one door closes, another opens for us. But we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

How do we move beyond that closed door? Take this time to check your thinking or belief system. “If you believe you’re a loser because of your job loss, you’ll have a harder time, obviously,” states Hillesland. “In contrast, less destructive thinking may be acknowledging that the economic environment is playing havoc with business, or realizing that you weren’t a good fit with that particular company and taking the situation less personally.”

“Again,” says Hillesland, it’s back to that balance of allowing yourself to grieve, yet on the other hand, being able and willing to seek new ground to stand on and move on.”

Harvard University established The Success/Failure Project on campus to help students deal with academic experiences among hefty competition. The project challenges them in new ways, including what it really means to succeed and to fail. The project helps some discover failing is not falling down, but staying down. Others find success means maintaining enthusiasm, despite many attempts at doing something unsuccessfully, or like Bill Gates, taking a whole new look at your primary assumptions: “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

“This is a great time to redefine yourself,” says Hillesland, “in terms of your priorities and goals. It might also be a chance to get to know yourself better, set new goals, maybe towards retraining, moving your skills into a “hotter” industry or even one better suited to your personal desires.”

Colorado Rockies’ star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki offers a study in personal discovery. “Tulo’s leap year” was the lead story Feb. 3 in The Denver Post Sports section. It talked about his pursuit of a dream, helping the Rockies to the 2007 World Series, followed by an off-balance throw in 2008 in San Francisco causing a torn left quadriceps. Suddenly, his dream job was taken by a healthy player. “The boy wonder was left to confront a sobering question: Who would he be if he didn’t have a bat in one hand and a glove in the other,” asked writer Troy E. Renck?

“My worst year was my best year,” Tulowitzki responded. “I know that sounds crazy. But that failure, the injury, not knowing where my career was headed, was humbling. It changed me in so many ways. Good ways. It helped me turn the corner.”

It’s that same corner we all need to turn. “Spend this time discovering who you really are,” encourages Hillesland. “We think of ourselves as our jobs — we’re so much more than that. This is our opportunity to confront this question, and if we’re fortunate, we’ll do it before we retire.”

Louann Hillesland has been counseling in our community for the past 8 years. At Counseling Connection LLC, she helps people take control of their lives offering counseling services including healing from job loss, relationship counseling, anxiety, depression, divorce or trauma. Reach her at 303-721-0005.

Marywyn Germaine is a writer in The Denver Post’s Creative Services Department.