How does the “Grief Cycle” Impact on Outplacement? Part 5

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The Grief Cycle & Job loss – part 5

 

Following on, sometimes seamlessly, sometimes not, from the bargaining phase of the grief cycle comes depression. It is generally agreed that this is by far the most difficult part of the process either to deal with oneself or to help someone else to deal with.

 

The depression can seem to go deeper and deeper and for the individual it can look as if there is no possible way out of the depression, ever. In fact, for the vast majority of people this is not true, but the length of the depressive state is almost impossible to predict.

 

The situation becomes particularly difficult when the grief cycle has been bought on through redundancy. The need for most people to work in order to earn a living pushes the depression deeper; whilst being unemployed is a constant reminder and reinvigorator of the depressive state. The situations may often become worse as time moves on because for most people there will be between 10 and 20 failed job applications before a new job is secured. Each rejection will reboot the depression.

 

There are two important points to remember at this stage. Firstly, whilst clinical depression clearly does have mental health implications, the depression associated with grief happens to virtually everyone and so it is not a mental health issue to experience this depression. Indeed, it would be very unusual not to.

 

The second, equally important point, is to understand it is quite possible that at some level the depression around the loss will remain forever. This is completely understandable when the grief relates the loss of a loved one. However, as I have been explaining throughout this blog, I believe that the impact of the grief cycle in the outplacement environment is almost exactly the same as it is for a personal loss.

 

I think it is self-obvious that the outplacement consultant helping a candidate has to step very carefully during the depression stage. Any concept of tough love – Oh! Everybody suffers a job loss at some stage so just snap out of it! – Is doomed to failure.

 

I normally take a double pronged approach. I explain that it really would be quite unusual for someone being made redundant not to feel depressed. I then explain that the very nature of the recruitment process is likely to make things worse. One applies for a job as them part of the reemployment process. The job gets closer and closer before, for all but one of the applicants, rejection takes place. Like water on stone, multiple rejections will seriously dent anybody’s confidence and exacerbate the filling of bottomless, endless depression. The point I will always make is that every outplacement candidate with whom I have ever worked has eventually been successful in finding another role; every single one.

 

So, in summary the Depression stage of the grief cycle is hugely difficult for most candidates to handle. Equally the outplacement consultant has to be very sensitive, carefully blending sympathy with encouragement.

 

In the next part of this blog will look at what is certainly the least well understood phase of the grief cycle – Acceptance.

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