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Job Loss

How to Cope

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Job loss

This man ponders what to do after losing his job.

Adrianna Williams/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Call it what you want — being laid off or downsized, getting dismissed or fired, receiving your pink slip or your walking papers, losing your job hurts. Among a variety of life-altering events, such as death in the family, divorce, and serious illness, losing your job ranks among the highest in stress-causing situations.

Job loss can have a profound effect on your emotional well being. There is a typical cycle that most people experience. This cycle includes denial, anger, frustration, and eventually adaptation.

Dealing With It

As you can see, being separated from one's job is extremely difficult. Many of us closely identify ourselves by what we do for a living. When the job is taken away, we can lose track of who we are and even why we are.

Emotional issues aside, a number of practical issues must be addressed. We must determine how long our financial resources will sustain us. We must also decide if a career change is in order. Then we must begin to plan for the future.

Taking Care of the Practical Stuff

A major issue most people must deal with is providing for themselves and their families. Finding out if one qualifies for unemployment compensation should be the first thing that is taken care of. The next thing is applying for this benefit. There are certain criteria that must be met. In the United States, your local Employment Service Center will be able to help you. The Web Site of the U.S. Department of Labor has information on unemployment compensation in the United States. This includes links to the individual sites of many states.

The next issue to deal with is health insurance. In the U.S. the majority of people who have health insurance are covered under a group plan through their employer. When a job is lost, that coverage is as well. That is why The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) was passed some time ago. This law allows those separated from their jobs to purchase health insurance at a group rate for a limited time.

Moving On

Once we have come to terms with all matters emotional and practical, it is time to move on. We must decide where to go from here. First you must look at why you lost your job. Was the company downsizing? If so, is this a trend in the industry? Do you want to stay in the same field? Is a career change in order? If not, maybe this is a good time to spruce up some skills in order to make yourself more marketable.

Rather than looking at a job loss as a horrible thing, it might be better to consider the positive implications of this situation. Take the time to make some changes — switch careers or industries, learn some new skills and improve upon the ones you already have, or perhaps consider relocating. Look forward to your next opportunity. You never know what doors this turn of events may open for you.

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