Coping with loss of a job due to disability or illness

Loss of a job can be due to an illness or disability which means that you are no longer able to carry out your role. It is a form of bereavement if you lose your job due to a chronic disease, life threatening illness, or an accident which causes disability or leaves you wheelchair bound.

Losing your health can bring on many of the emotions of grief. It is a deep loss and so is the loss of a job. Both are major life stresses but you have them both together. They are a type of grief that often goes unnoticed by the rest of the world, so you may not get the same support as if a family member died.

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There is grief here for the loss of mobility, the loss of job, the loss of colleagues, the loss of health. There is also much stress and anxiety about finances, emotional turmoil, anxiety for the future, wondering how the family will cope.

This grief and loss for the individual and family can be overlooked. It is a traumatic time. Shock, numbness and disbelief can be as great as if a loved one was lost. It is a huge lifestyle change.  Read more about coping with shock here. 

Talk to friends and family about your worries. Support your family members too, as they are very anxious and concerned for you too. Hiding their grief to support you. Talk together and grieve together.

The emotions you might be feeling can be similar to those experienced after a bereavement. The coping mechanisms are very similar too. I always advise people to organise, organise, organise.

Ways of coping with disability job loss

Learn to live with your new limitations. You can live a full and worthwhile life, adapt to change. Your life is still precious and useful.

Sort out your medical help, housing needs, mobility needs, support groups.

Work out your finances. Have to applied for all the support you are entitled to?

Prioritise your essential needs. Do you need to change homes due to wheelchair access?  Occupational therapists give practical help on how to adjust housing needs.

Do you need to change your car, or have adjustments made to allow safe driving?

Look after your general health, get adequate sleep, eat well and get fresh air.

Organise physiotherapy for exercise. Keep all your appointments.

Accept help!

Do you need a carer to help with your everyday needs?

Keep busy, get a new hobby.

Get a new job. There are still many skills you have that are valued in the workplace.

Volunteer. From a wheelchair you can still work in a charity shop, listen to children read in schools, make things.

You can still use a computer, play bridge, join a choir, learn a language.

You can study. Universities and colleges have a lot of support for disabled students to allow them access to courses.

At first there may be feelings of inadequacy, but you still have many skills and your friends and family still love you.

Do grieve. You have every right. However, do try to think positively for your own and your family’s sake.

Read Sarah's brave story about Life with MS

Read Lesley's article on Fibromyalgia on Sarah Key's Simple Back Pain

Find more information on Coping with Grief

Return from disability job loss to "What is Grief?

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