The Rollercoaster of Grief

The Rollercoaster of Grief


If you're packing up your frontline superhero cape, ready to bid adieu to the trenches of chaos and calamity, buckle up, because leaving the frontline isn't just about changing jobs – it's a rollercoaster of emotions, mixed with a generous sprinkle of chaos.

While we usually associate grief with death, the grief process is similar when you lose a career. It can be the loss of identity and what could have been. There are stages of career grief that it is important to be aware of and understand the impacts and how to move through them.

First up is the “this can’t be happening phase” or denial. Repeatedly telling myself that this was ‘unreal’ and ‘how could it happen”, is an empty feeling. Our bodies and brains are hardwired to be suspicious of change. Acknowledging this phase is important to begin the healing journey. To support this stage, you can employ self-care strategies. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others.

Mindful awareness: Practice bringing yourself into the moment instead of letting your mind wander. Focus on what you can see, hear, and feel, taking deep slow breaths. Talk to friends, family, or professionals. Sharing thoughts can validate your experience and provide a sense of connection. Grief can be isolating, and it can take a real effort to reach out but sharing really is caring.

From denial grows the fire within that is anger. This is one stage I am very familiar with. It can also be the blame game. Anger is a natural response to the perceived injustice of the situation. It is important to express anger in a healthy way rather than bottle it up and explode. In these pits of grief and despair, it is natural to look for easy relief, usually in substances, or alcohol, just to push the feelings away and get the good feelings. But that doesn’t last, it is physically and mentally toxic which will quickly result in feeling worse every day. Try physical activities like jogging, boxing, or something fun like mini golf. Releasing the stored-up energy will help you make better choices and relax. If you struggle to motivate yourself off the couch, sign up for a program, group, or event commitment.

Writing is therapy for me, and I would recommend to anyone who has a rave party of thoughts in their head to write it down, journal or just write a list. Once you get it out of your head you can breathe and sort the thoughts out

The next stop on this fun ride is known as bargaining. You may find yourself questioning decisions and looking at alternative scenarios or ways to reverse the situation. It is important for your healing to realise that some changes are beyond your control. So instead of churning over the ‘what ifs’, try channeling your energy into setting realistic short-term goals and writing them down, visibility gives you accountability. It also shifts the brain's focus from loss to achievement. Continue to grow that positivity by repeating words and phrases that build your resilience and strengths. Learning new skills or engaging in training can open doors to unexpected opportunities to provide a sense of purpose.

Just when you thought it got all light and fluffy, there is a dark tunnel that can appear when you least expect it. Navigating the emotional abyss that is depression doesn’t sound like a great time, and it's not. As the reality of career grief sinks in it is quite normal to find yourself consumed by sadness. It is important to distinguish between sad and clinically depressed as you may need professional support. Often in this sadness, it is difficult to see when the line to depression is crossed and each day becomes a blur. It is important to stay connected to friends and family so they can observe any changes and share concerns that you may not be able to see.

Embracing a new beginning might sound like the name of a rebirth retreat but it is simply the facing of a new reality. A shift of focus from what was lost to the potential for growth and new opportunities. People who train themselves to see change as an opportunity will cope better.

Not everyone goes through all these stages of grief in this order. It can vary depending on personalities and the loss experienced. There can be things left unsaid with unresolved issues. The mourning doesn’t end but it softens. Don’t expect too much of yourself, some days are easier than others. Start planning the future and celebrate the small wins. Create a new sense of purpose but be mindful of acting on impulse. It's okay not to be okay.




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