Coping With Being Fired

As anyone who’s been fired knows, being fired is difficult to deal with. It’s not at all like quitting. Well, maybe they’re just a bit alike in that both involve you no longer having your job. But, that’s where the similarity ends. Quitting is proactive. It’s freeing. It’s liberating. It’s you telling your boss to “take this job and shove it.”

Being fired is not like that at all.

It’s not proactive. It’s not freeing. It’s not liberating. It’s your boss telling you to “shove it.” Being fired is being victimized. Someone with power over you is controlling you and telling you what to do. And, what they’re telling you to do is “get the hell out.” It doesn’t matter how nice they say it. It doesn’t matter if they tell you that you’re an awesome person and that you’re not really being fired, you’re just being laid off for financial reasons that have nothing to do with you.

That’s nonsense. The reasons have everything to do with you. Somebody somewhere in the hierarchy (not necessarily the Angel of Doom who has given you the pink slip) decided that you are expendable for whatever reason or reasons. So, you’re out. You don’t get a say. It’s not open to debate. You’re just fired. So get your box of stuff, get to stepping and don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out.

I know this sounds harsh. I know this sounds bleak. I know this sounds like I’m comparing being fired to being the victim of a crime. Well, if you’ve been fired you know – that’s what it feels like. You feel like a crime was committed. You feel like your boss just mugged you and stole your dignity and your confidence. Oh, and while he or she was at it, they stole your income, your benefits, and your standing amongst your colleagues. And, then for good measure, he or she took a sledgehammer and went to work on your resume.

You think I’m kidding? You think I’m exaggerating? Then, you’ve never been fired. Because let me tell you from personal experience – from the perspective of someone who’s been fired and/or laid off from 4 different law firms – as much as you hate being a lawyer, as much as you may loathe the office, your clients, your colleagues, the judge, and 28 U.S.C. sections 1 through infinity, you still identify yourself as “a lawyer.” It is what you are and who you are. It shapes how you absorb information, how you process that information and how you react. It defines you to others. You may not want to acknowledge this, but if you’ve been practicing law for more than 3 seconds, you know I’m right. And, when you get fired, all of a sudden someone – someone other than you – has cast this all into doubt. Someone – without asking your permission or getting your authorization – fired you and in so doing has taken action so clear and decisive and surgical that you are left to wonder “Am I a lawyer any more? Am I capable of being a lawyer? Am I good enough to be a lawyer?” You are left feeling shaken and abused and, quite possibly, in shock. All the same feelings that victims of actual crimes – such as muggings and robberies and burglaries – feel. I know, because I was mugged once too.

And, the part about your resume? Well, as much as being fired is an assault against your person, it’s also an assault on your property—i.e., your resume and your career. It’s no different than if someone rammed your car or blasted your house with a bazooka. Not convinced? Okay, then you try explaining a 6-month absence from the labor force to a legal industry employer. You try explaining why your resume has this gaping hole between your last job and the one you’re currently applying for. It’s no different than trying to convince a potential home-buyer that they should “nevermind the termites” or explaining to a prospective car-buyer that the car you’re trying to sell to them works fine, even though the hood is crushed in, and the fender seems to be touching the wheel.

So what do you do when you’ve been fired? Unlike victims of actual crimes, you can’t go to the police. There’s not going to be a perp walk or lineup where they bring in your boss, and you get to finger the bastard who did this to you. There’s not going to be a Law and Order episode that is eerily reminiscent of what just happened to you (unless that episode involves a lawyer being fired).

So, again, what do you do? Where do you turn? How do you pick up the pieces and move on with your life? Do you pick up the pieces and move on with your life?

Excellent questions.

If you’ve ever been fired, you know that knowing what to do next is not easy. Being fired is a shocking event. And, your system needs time to process that shock. Thing is, no two people react to this kind of shock in exactly the same way. Some people become giddy. Some people fall into a deep depression For others, it’s red-hot rage. Others still, try to avoid confronting the pain by drinking, doing drugs and/or engaging in other potentially addictive and potentially self-destructive behavior. Me, personally, I did a little of all of that. First time I was fired, I was devastated. I yelled. I screamed. I cried. I threatened people with bodily harm (though never when I was in their presence because I was too much of a chicken to do that). I drank too much. And, I went on a skirt-chasing binge that was only mildly successful, but was extraordinarily expensive and entertaining to everyone but me (except when I was drunk, when it seemed like some sort of adventure, even when I struck out).

In the end, after I went through all that, I had nothing much to show for all that flailing about. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have an income. I didn’t have confidence in myself. And, I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with the rest of my career, such as it was.

And, you know what? That’s an okay place to be. It’s a difficult and painful and lonely place to be, but, at the same time, it’s still an okay place to be. Being forced to look into the abyss isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes you need to stare into the gaping metaphysical maw, face your fears, and ask yourself the really difficult questions: “Who am I? What do I enjoy? What makes my life worth living? What do I really want to do with my life? Am I prepared to make compromises, and, if so, which ones am I prepared to make?”

There are many other questions as well. Those are but a few.

But, it’s important to answer them. All too often, we lawyers don’t. We cruise through grammar school, junior high, high school, and college, never asking what we’re doing, why we’re doing it or whether we like it. We just know we’re supposed to do well in school. And, then there you are, senior year of college with not a clue of what to do, so you take the LSATs and apply to law school, figuring that you’ll figure it all out during those 3 more years of school, and even if you don’t, there’s no real harm, because a law degree will always come in handy.

And, all that time, not once did you stop and think: “Is this what I really want for myself, for my life?” And, by the time you figure out it’s not, it’s too late. You’re $100K in debt (or more), you’ve gotten used to a certain income, and you’ve grown accustomed to having a secretary and a staff of paralegals (not to mention junior associates) to boss around. Then along comes Joe Partner, and he fires you. BAM! And, now you’re out there in the cold with nothing, and you don’t even know who you are or what you want because you never stopped for one second to ask.

So, now’s the time. Yes, it’s true. You’ve just been mistreated. You’ve just been victimized. You’ve just been mugged. It’s awful, and it’s terrible, and feeling sorry for yourself feels pretty damn good right now.

But, I’ll tell you something – crying doesn’t put money in your pocket or bread on the table. Moping isn’t attractive to people you want to date. Lying in bed staring out the window wondering whether you’re more depressed than Virginia Woolf or Sylvia Plath won’t get you another job or a career you enjoy. And, none of it will make you feel happy or fulfilled or glad to be alive.

So, take a deep breath. Get up. Put on your shoes and take a long, brisk walk alone (and without wearing your iPod) and think about you. Take as long as you need. ou certainly don’t need to worry about getting to work on time. You’ve been fired, for pete’s sake, so time is one thing you do have.

Just walk and think. Don’t force it. Don’t get down. Just ask questions. If you don’t have the answers immediately, don’t worry. They’ll come. Just keep walking, breathing, thinking. Open your mind. Think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself to “what’s realistic” or “affordable” or “do-able.” Be bold. Be daring. Be unafraid. Keep reminding yourself that you get one shot at this life, and it’s entirely within your power to have as good or bad time as you want to have. Think about what you would advise someone else if they were in your shoes. Eventually, the answer to “what comes next” will come to you. It may not come in one neatly-packaged box. But, more often than not, there is an “a-ha” moment.

Second, after the initial moment of crisis has passed and the worst of the pain has ebbed slightly, sit down and look over your bank account and your expenses. Figure out what you need to get by till you get your thoughts together and you decide on your next move. If your expenses are very high, ask yourself whether there are some things you can do away with (at least in the short term). If you have some immediate financial needs that can’t wait, ask yourself whether there are available contract positions or other temporary jobs you might be able to obtain just to meet these immediate needs. Don’t worry if the temporary position isn’t glamorous or isn’t your dream job. It’s not supposed to be. It’s a pit-stop, something to just tide you over. If you have enough money saved to pay your bills without having to get a temporary job, and you’re comfortable living off of savings, by all means do so. You need the time for yourself.

In the meantime, and I mean this as the voice of experience and with sincerity and genuine affection for anyone facing this situation – remember that you are not alone. There are many, many people out there who’ve gone through what you’re going through, and many of them have gone on to have amazing careers that they absolutely love. Sometimes, they go on to enjoy fabulous careers not as lawyers but as something else, as I can attest. Because the key to coping with being fired it to remember most importantly and above all else — being fired is the end of a job, it’s not the end of your life.

I wish you great happiness and much success. And, if you’d care to share your experience with me or with the readers of Lawyerist, please do write in.

Originally published on September 1, 2011 and updated on July 18th, 2019


  1. Thanks for this post, introducing lawyers to an easy, productive way to add self-reflection skills to their toolboxes. As you point out, the benefits are amazing (and they don’t dull sharp edges, either).

  2. Avatar BL1Y says:

    It’s always good to remember the fundamental attribution fallacy. When good things happen to others, we assume it’s because they’re lucky or cheated, but when good things happen to us, it’s because we worked hard and deserve it. Contrariwise, when bad things happen to us, it’s bad luck or we’re a victim; when bad things happen to others, it’s because they’re lazy, incompetent, and brought it on themselves.

    In reality, most of what happens to us is a mix of luck and merit. If you got laid off, you were probably the weak link at your firm, and also unfortunate enough to be in the midst of a recession and at a firm that couldn’t take the financial hit. If you kept your job through the recession, you’re probably doing an okay job, and worked hard to get your position in the first place, but it’s the partners at the top who are bringing in the work that keeps you busy.

  3. Avatar Susan Gainen says:

    Great post. Thank you for it.

    After the anger-grief-binge, there are a few other things to do:
    1. Nail down an agreement with your employer about who will answer reference calls and what will be said about you. Get this in writing if you can.
    2. Find as many former colleagues who will serve as references for you outside the formal “reference” process.
    3. Reconnect with colleagues from other firms/agencies with whom you had professional relationships to jump-start your job search.

    While you are reconsidering what your next professional step will be:
    1. Go back and do the self-assessment and career path analysis that you may not have done before going to law school or that you should do again, now that you are a completely different person than you were when you were a junior in college. You have new skills, new experiences, and new perspectives on the nature of work and the kind of work that you might want to do for the next few years.
    2. Look around everywhere and think about the job that you really want. What is your dream job? Did you put that dream on the shelf between your first and second year of law school? If so, dust it off. This might be the right place and the right time for you to make it happen.

    Good luck!

  4. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Very well written, thoughtful and unfortunatelyl too useful of an article. I can add 1 thing or analogy to the feeling of the forced termination.
    Based upon what I have seen and heard about mob life, I think being fired is like being wacked by the mob. Oftentimes, everything could be going fairly well, maybe not perfectly but there’s always some challenges to overcome. Everyone in the firm seems friendly as usual and civil; coworkers and immediate superiors you work with every day and maybe even eat lunch with or who go with you on an errand at lunch still do that and discuss your familiy and kids….and then 1 day you get called into an office by 1 of those same superiors whom you deal with every day both socially and professionally for no stated reason. Being called into the bosses office feels like being asked to go for a ride “somewhere” …you don’t know where the ride is going or what might be in store for you and you dread it but you know you have no choice…. And BAM! They break the news to you and you likely feel surprised, beaten down, punched inthe face; helpless and confused. True you still feel something but it could be a traumatic experience that you feel for a long time or forever. Maybe you see it coming but even so, it typically comes sooner than you expect. Needless to say, you feel betrayed. Then you feel all the rest of the things mentioned in the article.

    • Avatar Lenora says:

      This describes my experience perfectly. I am still trying to move past this experience and have been very depressed and worried. What upsets me most was that I got no warning – no problems noted with work product or personality issues. I did find out from someone still with the company that my job was given a different title and there was someone waiting in the wings for it.

  5. Avatar Alex Barnett says:

    Susan: Thanks so much for contributing the additional helpful hints and suggestions. They are great suggestions!

  6. Avatar Ellen Barshevsky says:

    I am trying to avoid getting fired. The manageing partner likes me, but he said they are trying to retranche. I wonder if this means my job is on the line?

  7. Avatar Jeff says:

    After 20 years of progressive success in the financial world, I watched with horror as hundreds of my clients lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, virtually overnight. I decided to pursue a lifelong dream of joining the noble profession of becoming a lawyer. I landed a job within weeks of taking the bar. After one month with the fledgling firm, I was notified via email after another dead day in the office that I was being terminated. I felt it was a low-class and cowardly way to terminate,,, not to mention my first termination ever.

    I am actively seeking work again, but indeed, I felt “violated.” Bad experience accompanied by depression, sleeplessness, and swings between anger, disappointment, fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt. I have a track record that says otherwise, nevertheless, I feel as if I’ve been a failure. But I wasn’t happy, and the firm has no attorneys who have been there over 2 years and there is very little business. Ironically, it was an employment law firm with potential clients suing for wrongful termination. I feel like I have a better case than most of the potential clients. Anyway, one sun sets and another rises.

  8. Avatar Jackal says:

    great post, and a very important subject. nice deconstruction of the experience, which is easily brushed off in the modern corporate world as a fact of life, when in fact it’s usually a questionable anomaly that has simply become the norm.

  9. Avatar Cece says:

    I was fired yesterday. I feel and have felt all the sentiments expressed in this post and I must say, it’s so refreshing to know other people understand where I’m coming from. I’ve done a ton of reflecting in these less than 24hours later from getting fired and in my particular situation, I can only blame myself. I am blessed that I have the ability to grieve (and boy, when I grieve, I do so vehemently) and then move on quickly. Of course I’m not completely over it, it happened just yesterday. But I realized a lot about myself and how I could have handled certain things differently and I can do nothing but respect the decision of my supervisor to let me go. As strong of a kick to the gut it was, I am glad it happened because I know in the future what I need to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    Thank you for this blog. It really helps me cope with my (hopefully brief) misfortune. I have an interview for a staffing agency next wednesday and hopefully I’ll get placed in a job as fast as I did in my most recent position. I may be down but I’m not out!

  10. Avatar Loser says:

    I was fired 6 months ago and I still can’t get over it. It was a great job with good pay and everything. I have had a few interviews and have been rejected at every one and I think it’s because of me being fired. My depression has been getting worse and worse and I am at my wits end.

    • Avatar Donna says:

      you are not a Loser,
      But I totally understand. Its been 2 years for me and I am still depressed pretty bad. I still cannot talk about it without tears. Seems like once it happens we experience more rejections. I was fired from a major bank and when I have applied at other banks I feel on the inside they call their contacts at the bank where I worked to find out “inside info” We all know people talk…. I know when I was working there I had contacts with other financial institutions where you could call your “buddy” and get info on someone.

  11. Avatar Paige says:

    I was fired 2 years ago from my dream job after 11 years of service. I have a new job that I really enjoy and earn more than the previous job. I still have all of the feelings mentioned in the above posts. Just to a lesser degree but they are all there and resurface easily. I get twinges of jealously towards the people who are still at my old company when I hear that they are fine. I enjoy hearing about former coworkers being mistreated by my old company management. It really is like having a form of PTSD. I know that I am in a better situation now, better compensation, no micromanaging, more autonomy, but I still get knots in my stomach thinking about everything. It was the first time I was ever fired from anything in my life. Hopefully the last. Every time I think about it or the people involved I get a knot in my stomach. I really hope that at some point it does not bother me anymore.

  12. Avatar Donna says:

    I feel exactly like you. Its been 2 years since I was fired from my banking career and I have a job now I love but the money is worse. Financially I am okay as my husband makes a great living but I still feel depressed, like a failure, anything bad you could think about yourself … I feel it toward myself. I had never been fired from a job in my life. My husband’s advice is … just move on… get past it… well tell me just how to do that? This from a successful man working for an awesome company for almost 30 years, well respected and everything he touches turns to money. Me, I feel like a NOTHING.

    • Avatar Rebecca says:

      Hi Donna (and others),

      I’m so sorry that this experience has broken you down so completely. You are NOT nothing, though- not even close. You have another job which you love, which tells me you’re probably happier with the other factors that matter besides the money (kind coworkers, good hours, a good supervisor, etc.) than you were at your last job anyway. I was essentially forced out of my first job right out of college this year, and it’s been very painful moving forward because it was my first non-internship work experience but because it does feel personal. I know it’s supposed to be about “business,” but I learned very quickly about office politics. Sometimes, yes, a person does need to be let go. But even in the last few months, I’ve found that it’s much more common for people to lose jobs over personality conflicts or what have you.

      I don’t know what your circumstances were, but DO NOT be your own bully. The world will spend enough time trying to tear things from you and bring you down. Please give yourself a break and think about the fact that you DID manage to find work again, even in a terrible economy. Someone clearly saw value in you and recognized you as possessing talents they desired in the workplace. Do you know how awesome that makes you?

      The pay might be worse, but let me tell you what I think. I’m just a twenty-two-year-old with little financial responsibility, but I can say that the biggest reason I accepted the job that didn’t work out was because it paid well. If I have learned anything from my experience, it’s that I will not care about pay in the future so long as I can support myself/my future family and love my job. A great work environment is worth more than gold, and only this year did I figure out how tough this will be to get. You have a job you love. Hold on to it. Be thankful for your happiness. Money will follow.

      Thanks for reading. :)

  13. Avatar CathyJ says:

    Thank You for this. It sums up exactly how I feel. Helps me to move forward and not define myself by the termination.
    Cathy RPh.
    Fired from Wal-Mart…… totally a wrongfull Termination.. to the core….

  14. Avatar Brett says:

    This article speaks to me more than i could even describe in words. Thank you so much for sharing you experience… I too felt nothing short of robbed when I was fired about 8 months ago. It felt like everything and anything of value in my life was taken from me in dramatic fashion. Such a dark and lonely place. At first I felt shocked and confused. I couldn’t believe what had actually happen. I’d become so use to this routine and as you mentioned, identity. Then suddenly its gone. Your hopes, ambitions, dreams, aspirations, pride, confidence, vision for the future, etc., is taken from you in a matter of seconds. It feels like your world is shattered. Like I said earlier, words cannot fully describe what it feels like. It’s a sad place.

    Like a disease, losing your job and becoming unemployed spreads quickly. There’s nothing in your life that is off limits. It negatively affected every aspect of my life. I basically shut down. Crawled into a dark hole and had every intention of staying there because self-pity felt sooo good. I was too ashamed to tell anyone (other than my parents). For this reason I quickly became very anti-social even though I consider myself a pretty outgoing person. I stopped reaching out to friends as much. I no longer made those occasional phone calls to relatives just to check in out of fear that I’d have to admit to being fired. It’s tempting just to lie, but I’d only be lying to myself. It changed my personality. Of course it affected me financially. I had to abide by a very strict budget. It pained me to spend every penny knowing that there was no money coming in. The money left in my savings that could have been used to buy something special or possibly a trip overseas was now meant for survival. Spiritually, I was run down. I was no longer able to find pleasure in the things I once enjoyed most. And perhaps most devastatingly, I was psychologically destroyed. There was so much anger built up inside of me. I doubted myself more than I ever thought possible. Every obstacle I’d overcome felt insignificant. Each accomplishment up until that point no longer seemed relevant no matter how I tried to look at it. Oh boy did I suffer. It killed me. I nearly let it destroy me altogether.

    However, I started a path towards recovery once I had braved the worst part of the storm. Life began anew. I took a job working as a cashier at a retail wine store even though this was not what I felt my degree in economics had in store for me. But ya know what? This turned out to be exactly what I needed at the time. It was very theraputic. This was the best possible medicine in helping me forget about my last job. I slowly started feeling good about my work again. This job allowed me to contribute as a team player. It felt good to help others perform their jobs better and receive the same in return. My co-workers and supervisors gave me praise which had become an almost unfamiliar concept. I felt good again. I felt like myself again. Except this time I was stronger. My confidence started becoming restored. It gave me drive again. I was back in the driver’s seat of my life again and I refused to become a victim of what my previous employer had done to me.

    I am still in the process of recovering, but have made significant progress. I now work for a great financial services company. I like my job and there is exponential room for growth. I feel all around whole again in life. Socially, psychologically, financially, and spiritually. I feel very good about the direction I am heading. Will I ever face another devastating setback in my life such as being fired from a job? It is very possible. However, I get to decide whether or not that should stop me from moving on in life.

  15. Avatar Al says:

    I got fired 2 weeks ago from my dream job and I did not expect it. At the end of the year, I had gotten a good raise and a great annual review. Everybody was so nice ! I was progressively put on more challenging projects and even though, it was difficult, I was inching forward. I felt that these nice folks would let me know if there was an egregious problem. Instead, I was fired on the phone during a meeting, because I had not achieved a high enough level of self sufficiency within the 3 weeks of a new project assignment. They were polite, saying how they personally liked me, promising me a good reference but felt I belonged elsewhere. I am inconsolable. I have tried everything – prayer, exercise, meditation, reaching out to friends, pampering myself but life has lost its meaning and flavor. I have an interview tomorrow but when I try to prepare for it, I have no motivation and worse, no confidence at all in myself. This afternoon I called the suicide hotline because I really am at the end of my tether. It was the same platitudes – write your thoughts/feelings, take a walk, it will get better, be your own cheerleader. But I do not know how to lift myself.This time, life got me !

  16. Avatar Fired Lawyer says:

    Thanks for this post, it helps knowing I’m not the only one who has had these feelings.

    I was fired earlier today. Luckily, I’d already had several interviews lined up. I had an interview at a new firm an hour after I was fired. Three hours later I had an offer for more than I was making at my previous job.

    It seems like it should have worked out perfectly, I was already considering leaving and this just made that easier, right? But I still feel like absolute shit. I gave that firm 5 years, I was great at my job, I had friends there, and I get cattle called into a room with a bunch of other attorneys and told we have to be the sacrificial lambs to appease an angry and unrealistic client.

    It makes me feel like a worthless pile of shit, being discarded like that. This way I get severance pay, and it ends up being more financially beneficial for me than if I’d quit, but it feels so much shittier.

  17. Avatar Demetria says:

    After being fired 3 days ago, this is exactly what I needed to read.
    Thank you for helping me realize I’m not alone in my feelings of victimization and uncertainty.
    I’m ready to face the day and take hold of opportunities.

  18. Avatar M says:

    I was fired 4/24/13 from a job I loved, that I had been at for a little over a year. I had a great, professional, friendly relationship with my co-workers. I had positive feedback from co-workers and clients over the course of time I was there, and I worked SO HARD. I wasn’t perfect, I made mistakes, those of which got me fired. On top of that I was 3 mos pregnant at the time (everyone knew), and although I actually had planned to leave my job in Oct so I could stay at home with my baby for the first year (no one at work knew of my plans), I was hoping to keep working there, and then say a nice goodbye to my co-workers, etc…

    It’s amazing how you described it in the article. It really IS like my boss robbed me. My dignity, my craft, my relationship with my co-workers and clients—GONE in 5 minutes. I never got to say goodbye and THANK YOU. I just slammed the door in my boss’s face when I left his office to go and collect my things. On top of that, aside from getting unemployment, how is a pregnant women to find a job in the 5 mos she has left before giving birth? Aside from temp work. After the first 48 hours of hell, I managed to pick up the pieces and go about my business. My office mate, the other person that shared an office and worked side by side with me actually reached out to me and we still talk—REALLY helped by doing this. I didn’t feel like such a leper. No one else has and it is heartbreaking.

    But now, I’ve started having terribly strange and detailed dreams involving my co-workers and/or my job, or being back at my job, sneaking in, or trying to go back to retrieve more items. It’s stirring it all up again. I just want to move on. I want to be done with this. I am still friends with several of my co-workers on facebook and now I am thinking about privately reaching out to them and just saying “it was great working with you…etc” (but not mentioning the firing), so I can have closure and stop having the dreams. I don’t know what to do, what is the right thing to do.

    In the meantime, I’m applying to jobs to appease the unemployment office, but am focusing on building a freelance career and honing my craft and networking skills more. If a temp job in my field comes along, I’ll grab it. I want to devote my time to my baby but not neglect what I love to do.

  19. Avatar Ray says:

    Excellent post! I have just been fired after 1 month in job because i refused to work 14hrs a day. The emotional roller coaster you described, is exactly what I am going through now. But I am hoping that things will look up soon and I will be able to pull myself up and reapply to jobs.
    thankfully I have a loving family to support me through this mess.

  20. Avatar Jonathan Flores says:

    Thank you for this post. It comes at such a great time. I was fired today 8/26/13 from my NY agency job where I spent countless hours delivering great work for a company that does not value it’s employees. It took this hostile act of their’s to knock some sense into me — my value does not come from them, but really from the value I give myself through the work I’ve accomplished. Your post helped me to not feel so alone at a time when I really feel so alone. The post of others who have experience something similar helps reinforce that no one person feels, acts or reacts the same way, but the sentiment of this post has been helpful in painting a clear picture of that. I’m truly an optimistic person and believe that out of bad things, good things often come. I am looking forward to my next chapter.

    @ Susan Gainen – thank you for your helpful post. Certainly a great start to a return to normalcy and path to transformation.

    for those coming here before me and those coming here after me I wish you all luck in seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

    Jonathan F.

  21. Avatar laura says:

    Great message, helped a lot :) Was fired on Monday and feel a lot more optimistic after reading

  22. Avatar juan says:

    I got fired today and i didnt cry when my boss told me or had to discuss everything
    but when i had to clean up my things and my coworkers were called me over because they felt sad i started to tear up a bit. than as i left i met some of my coworkers on my way out. it was so much harder than i thought it would be.
    Thanks for the post, im a guy and i hate crying but im glad im not the only one that has.

  23. Avatar Lora says:

    I’m crying reading this. I’m about to be fired by my boss, who I used to describe as the nicest person ever, and he’s throwing me under the bus to deal with a project gone awry long before I came on board. I’m devastated, paralyzed and without sleep — HR ‘informed’ me on Friday that my boss would be terminating me…on Monday. How effed up is that? Now, I have travel in on Monday and face the humiliation. Mostly, though, it’s the financial fear and ensuing hardship — daughter in college, owing back taxes..due to underemployment, layoffs during 08-12… I can’t stop crying….and paralyzed in fear.

  24. Avatar CL says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I was fired on my birthday after 6 years with the company. Being loyal was no longer something that the new management valued, so they pressured me for 2 months and gave a harsh email to follow their order for extra work (on top of my voluntary extra hours) or leave. Cried for 3 days and saw this article. I’m determined to seek legal advice and look for temp jobs or anything to help me financially. Fingers cross and yes I need to stay positive even though it is very hard at the moment not to curse them.

  25. Avatar Judy in FL says:

    Reading all of the below comments helped me by understanding that my hurt and feelings of being wronged are not just a weakness in me! I was fired for the first time in my life (I’m 55) in May of 2013 and devastating just doesn’t seem strong enough to describe how I feel…even 8 months later.
    I have spent a lot of time wondering how “they” could make me feel so bad about myself because of it. I came to a very painful conclusion… during my career I have worked very hard at progressively more “important” jobs… and somewhere along the line I unfortunately made my life my job. Everything seemed to revolve around my job(s) to the point that I don’t know who I am without it. Frequently working 60–65 hours, in the end, to please my VPs, managers, etc caused me to believe that it would be appreciated and I was a success. That changed in a matter of minutes. With their words that I no longer possessed the skills they needed (after 5 years) I was summarily walked to my office and escorted out of the building.
    The short story is that I worked for two VPs equally – one on site and one 1,500 miles away. The one on site was doing unethical things against corporate policy, the other expected me to make sure the location upheld corporate policy and employment law -I was an HR Manager. Whichever way I went, the other made my life a living hell. The local guy, in his normal fashion lied to the other, and I ended up the loser. Although I was in a lose-lose situation I tried to soldier on because 1) I needed the money even more because of impending divorce and a son at college, and 2) because I cared about “my” 200 employees and wanted to continue to provide them support.
    These people who upended my life and made my family suffer because I just did not know how to play their games, continue to succeed in their charmed lives. I just can’t get over the feeling of failure even though I know I did nothing wrong! How do they sleep at night?
    Thanks for allowing me to finally put this in words. One bit of advice for others…do not sign a separation agreement, no matter how much you need the money. They knew I needed it and took advantage of that in offering me 3 months severance. They knew I didn’t have a choice, and they knew that I was aware of EEOC, OSHA, ADA (and several other regulatory agencies) violations that could have cost them millions.
    Do not allow an employer to pay you off in exchange for your silence. The shame that I did has only added to my depression.
    I’m trying hard to get over what I’ve been told was “adjustment disorder” and I will, eventually I will. Right now I steal I was raped of my dignity.

  26. Avatar RandomLawyer says:

    One thing I would highly recommend to anyone who recently gotten fired from a law firm, is to go to the free clinic and take up a case. I did that, and it gave me a lot of perspective. It also makes you feel very valuable. I worked on a landlord tenant case, I never realized how much having a law degree mattered. When I worked on the landlord tenant case, I was counseling a family of four who made an annual income of less than 14k. I just realized my paycheck for that week was bigger than anything they would make for the whole year. They lived in a ramshack with dangerous ceilings, exposed wiring etc. The landlord was just taking advantage of their low education status. Being able to help them face the landlord was very empowering. It also gave me perspective on the potential good I could do with a law degree that was wasted with the emphasis on the billable hour.

  27. Avatar byzantynbloodlightning says:

    I got fired from my job on February 14, 2011 (yes, “Crappy” Valentine’s Day–you blew it!). I was an overnight shift-supervisor for a retail outlet with a little too much time on my hands and took risks that backfired and I got busted for it (oddly enough it was a district manager, not the store manager (who even tried to stand-up for me), that did the deed. Oh yeah, a little parting gift was to put me on a national database that other potential employers can check, so fired and blacklisted in the one career I could do well. Good job!
    I went into a major funk after that. I was sitting on a lot of savings (for my own apartment/house) already and shared a small-but-comfortable apartment so my living expenses were low. I sold my paid-for car and managed to stretch my resources out for three years. I thought I had plenty of time to mull things over and thought I had options too–until my first futile attempts to get back into the workforce were stonewalled. Then I did the worst thing: I gave up. I mean–GAVE UP! No drink or drug excuses, I just became s shut-in at my computer and tv in the worst kind of denial possible. I don’t even have that substance abuse to use as an excuse. I totally folded up the tent.
    As long as I could pay my share of the rent/utilities/cable/etc., my room mate was live-and-let-live (he knew he’d be much worse off if he pushed me to the point of leaving him paying the full nut). I lost contact with my friends, co-workers, everyone and I didn’t care. The denial was complete and I was living in a total fantasy world…
    until the money ran out.
    Oh, it hasn’t yet, but it will in about a month-or-two. Rushing back into the workforce isn’t working either. I’ve been fired, have a three year work gap and was fired from the last, best, job I had, and I’m just turning 51 How’s that for “three strikes”? Now I’m faced with real homelessness, possibly not in the best of health, in an area where jobs are sparse for those on-foot (busses? What busses?). I’ve done the best job of making myself unemployable–there should be a reward for that. Playing the sympathy card isn’t helping either. I may be facing a real life-threatening situation because I was in terminal denial and no one’s willing to reign me in.
    People will give second chances to reformed addicts, alcoholics, even ex-cons, but for the one that just gave up, he deserves his fate. Don’t let this happen to you. If anything, maybe my failure can be used as an example.

  28. Avatar Anonymousgvtlawyer says:

    I can identify with a lot of this. Last yr, I was fired from a job after failing a security check (never found out why). It devastated my confidence and my state of mind in general. I was a real mess for at least 6 months after; and I couldn’t believe it when I managed to get another job. There was so much anger and resentment, and I just needed to endlessly talk that out. Even after starting the new job, the residual fears stayed with me that the same thing might happen again. But I did learn that my friends and my family were the most important thing I have- this article is great and I love the way it stresses that it’s not the end of the world to lose your job, but what I would add is that people can be brilliant, and they will not judge you for what happens to you :-).
    Good luck to all the other posters in moving on from your experiences too.

  29. Avatar TM says:

    I just got fired from my job. Hated the role, loved the firm. It was my dream firm, actually. I was obsessed with my job– then all of a sudden, HR decides to call me in and say “we won’t be offering you a permanent position.” Totally shattered my world. My pain is a week young, though. So plenty of healing to do. Luckily I’m still an undergrad, but this definitely threw me off course. Hopefully I manage to find a firm as good as the last, if not better. Feeling quite lost at the moment.

  30. Avatar CMH says:

    I’m not a lawyer, I’m just a medical lab tech. We are the people who run all those tests your doctor orders. At least, I was one. Imagine busting your ass in an extremely accelerated degree program, getting all A’s, getting your first job in your chosen field and then getting fired 7 days later. Getting fired for “cultural fit” reasons, because you *dared* to point out to the HR Director that not every employee can be expected to be an extreme extrovert. Now, imagine this company you just got fired from (2 days before Christmas, mind you), has cornered the laboratory market in your state, employing probably 90% of all lab techs. Good luck getting another job in a lab, especially with 15 to 18 new graduates being churned out every two years; those are just the associate degrees. Oh, and imagine you’re 46 and haven’t worked in 10 years, without even “I was raising children” as an excuse. At least my husband’s insurance covers my depression meds.

  31. Avatar Susan Dobransky-Johnson says:

    I was fired from my nursing job on 04/04/13 and I have never been the same since. It was complete lies, they wouldn’t let me face my accuser, and unemployment didn’t believe me. I tried to commit suicide and ended up on medication for depression and anxiety. I have gone back to school, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to work again. I have had seven different jobs since then and had to leave due to, physical pain (psycho somatic), mostly, and severe anxiety! Most recently I tried to work at two different nursing homes, and I didn’t even make it through orientation for the first position, and just barely made it through the second orientation. My blood pressure goes extremely high, my pulse races, i get very hot and sweaty, I can’t concentrate, and all I can think about is escaping. For the most recent job i even got a prescription for xanax and it did not help at all, just made feel like a zombie. I feel worthless, and useless. Since being fired I have been living on my student loans, because I had no other choice, I even tried to sell plasma, but i get weird physical symptoms from this. I figured it out for the last three years I would have made a little over $70,000, It would be more with the shift differential and instead I have accumulated almost $50,000 in student loan debt. I wish I could sue them. I have been thinking about disability, but it takes so long to get approved….I just don’t know what to do anymore.

  32. Avatar Scott says:

    I am not a lawyer, I am a retail manager
    Got fired this morning, and am numb
    Realizing I put my whole life into the job
    No family, one friend
    This sucks

  33. Avatar Marina says:

    I’m 56 and dyspraxic. Having been now in 3 meetings where all my failings have been collected up, and being asked how I want to move forward, I’m worn out! It isn’t actually being fired, but you can’t say ‘oh don’t worry, I’ll get better/don’t worry I’ll work more hours” etc. I’m cornered and feel the only thing to do is offer my resignation.
    I can’t work any faster, I truly can’t. I can’t remember the implications of ticking every box on every database. I can’t remember all the steps of all the processes. (I did write very detailed notes and files, but either haven’t got the time to look up every time, or can’t always remember which category a certain task falls into).
    Last time I did temping as an audiotypist which I really enjoyed. I strayed back into admin but quickly realised I couldn’t do it and would soon have the meeting mentioned above, or get fired.
    I don’t blame anyone anymore, and don’t blame myself. I have been setting up my own business and hope to temp again and work from home. I’m officially giving up trying to keep a job. It half kills me and doesn’t work out.
    We have a big house, in a lovely area, and 2 young children to look after- so I need to keep sane, prevent a heart attack from stress, and find my life again.

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