When we go through any change we lose something.
It may be a change for the better or for the worse. But something will be lost! Even if it is only the comfort that comes from old habits and familiar surroundings!
The feelings we may experience during major life changes like losing a job can overwhelm us, and certainly, some of them, may be unfamiliar.
So sometimes it is useful to know what to expect. Then we can realise that we are not alone and we are quite normal. We will still be able to work through this to find a good way ahead!
Most theories about handling life changes like redundancy are based on the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
Kubler-Ross was a doctor who spent a lot of time working with the dying in Switzerland. She hated the way doctors often shunned the dying because they felt embarrassed by their inability to help! Busy doctors could always find an excuse to avoid an encounter.
Dr Kubler-Ross spent time both comforting the dying and studying them. She wrote a book, called ‘On Death and Dying’ which included the cycle of emotional states that is often referred to as the Grief Cycle.
In the years after her book was published, psychologists realised that this cycle was not exclusive to just the terminally ill. It applied to people who were affected by all kinds of bad news, such as losing their jobs.
The important factor was not whether the change was good or bad, but how you perceived it. If you think you are losing something you value then to a greater or lesser extent you will grieve for it.
The Extended Grief Cycle
This chart illustrates the Extended Grief Cycle! It shows the roller-coaster of feelings that can follow news of a life change as you move between activity and passivity until you reach real acceptance.
There you are living your life as best you can when suddenly you learn something, or someone makes a decision, that means life will never be quite the same for you again!
· So you move into Shock* (initial paralysis at hearing the bad news).
· You try your best to ignore it and go on day by day doing what you have always done – Denial (trying to avoid the inevitable).
· You begin to get frustrated because you know you just can’t avoid it – Anger (the frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion).
· You try everything you know to find a way out – Bargaining (seeking in vain for a way out).
· Then you realise there is no way out – Depression (final realization of the inevitable).
· You start looking at options and trying out new ways of behaving Testing* (seeking realistic solutions).
· You find the best way ahead for you – Acceptance (finally finding the way forward).
* This model is extended slightly from the original Kubler-Ross model, which does not explicitly include the Shock and Testing stages. These stages however are often useful when trying to understand and work through change.
I don’t know where you are right now in the cycle.
Sometimes we go round the various bends more than once depending on our personal journey. Sometimes we can miss a stage out completely. But this is the journey most people make.
I know I find it useful to have the map in my head when I go through personal change. I stop worrying about what I’m feeling, knowing it is quite normal, and start looking for triggers that might take me onto the next stage. I hope we are going to provide resources on this site to help you do that.
It would be great if you were prepared to share your own feelings about the change you face here. Your stories will help others to realise they are not alone in their own experience. If you would like to do so anonymously rather than commenting below, please send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org marking your email ANONYMOUS in the subject line.