Over the past few months, the airline industry has gone from pilot and mechanic shortages to extreme overstaffing. This turnaround was sharp and dramatic. Pilots, flight attendants and A&Ps are facing a harsh, undeserved reality. Their colleagues, or even themselves, may be furloughed.
A furlough can be an emotional rollercoaster. When being furloughed, it might feel as if your world were collapsing. Besides the loss of stability, structure, lifestyle, and colleagues, the sense of social utility and identity can be strongly affected. When dealing with grief, feelings of anger, sadness and frustration are common. Everyone experiences loss in their own way.
Grief is a term often linked to the loss of a loved one, but it is equally applicable to losing a job. The different stages of grief in the Kubler-Ross grief cycle can also be experienced when it comes to important life changes, such as a furlough. Understanding and applying the stages of grief on oneself, colleague, or spouse can help process the emotions that come with a furlough.
The following are the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief:
Stage 1: Denial
During the first phase, denial, it is difficult for one to face the dismissal. Denial can be the conscious or unconscious refusal to face reality. It is a natural form of self-protection. It helps determine at what rate the grief is allowed. This phase usually manifests itself through avoidance, confusion, shock, and fear.
Stage 2: Anger
When the truth is faced, anger occurs. In this phase, these angry feelings may be projected onto the boss or company who have failed them. It is also possible that the blame is passed onto colleagues. Anger helps in the grieving process since the feelings of guilt and grief are suppressed by focusing on the anger that comes with blame. Feelings of anxiety, frustration, irritation, and thoughts of revenge can occur during this phase.
Stage 3: Bargaining
At this stage, attempts are made to negotiate. One can try to deal with the loss of work by setting goals or making promises. For example, bargaining can be done by applying for myriad jobs or setting extremely high personal goals. During this phase, it might be difficult to find meaning, and it is particularly important to reach out to others for support.
Stage 4: Depression
When reality sets in, some may go into depression or show symptoms of stress. When one begins to accept reality, feelings of sadness, regret, fear, and insecurity emerge. Losses from the past resurface and one may need to express their sadness repeatedly. Underneath the sadness, feelings of anger remain. Suppressed anger is often a crucial cause of depression. Other feelings that might occur during this phase are helplessness, overwhelmedness and hostility.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Having had enough time to process the loss and go through the mentioned stages, it is possible to start accepting reality. It is time to let go. Letting go is not the same as forgetting. It is giving the loss a place in life and moving on. Only after acceptance can come a new perspective, actively moving forward, exploring options, and making new plans.