Getting Fired: The Stages of Grief


  1. Denial: You’re threatened/ perceive yourself as threatened that your job is at stake. You develop hypervigilance and attempt to create alliances and gossip with coworkers about your fate without it being obvious. You try to appear as if you don’t care. You write long emails to your boss of plans to improve yourself as an employee, then emails that are basically just lists detailing why you’re already awesome. You send none of these. You give yourself relentless, self-indulgent pep talks until you’re annoyed with yourself.
  2. Denial, Part 2: You’re fired. You saw this coming and disassociate like a good trauma victim. Perhaps, if you work in the corporate world, you’re escorted around and out of the building. You carry flimsy boxes, trailed by H.R. ladies, to your car. Nobody makes eye contact with you.
  3. Anger/ Depression: You go home. Sometime over the next few days – days you later barely remember – you sign all the paperwork that officially releases you from employment at the job at which you spent every day. You grieve however you grieve. You become more cynical and angry than ever before.
  4. Full-on Depression: After a few more days, you figure out you need money, no matter how unjust it seems. You carelessly fill out job applications and send out resumes you’ve neglected to update. You get a few calls and go to a few interviews. You can’t create focused answers. You fumble and know the smile doesn’t show in your eyes. All the response emails and letters include the word ‘unfortunately.’ After some time, maybe a month or three, you begin to contemplate life without any of your possessions, without anonymity, perhaps without even a place to live. Shit gets scary.
  5. Bargaining: You realize that you can’t borrow any more money from your parents and that your savings is running out. You’ll take any job at this point. You imagine yourself with your master’s degree, making lattes, and you’re reassured. That’s how bad it gets.
  6. Acceptance: You convince yourself life without stuff will be liberating. Maybe you post some of your things on Craigslist. You put in your notice to move, perhaps in with family. Or you figure out a couch-surfing regime that won’t result in homicide, and let go.
  7. Acceptance, Part 2: You realize you fucked up in some ways, and in some ways, that your boss is a real prick. You start being honest in interviews. You smile with your eyes. Finally, maybe you get lucky, maybe you follow a dream, but most importantly, you get your ass employed.

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