03/05/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Unemployment Takes the Bronze

After death and divorce, the most likely source of grief for most people is caused by unemployment. That is both a morbid little fact and an emerging reality for millions of Americans who never anticipated this reality a year ago. Nevertheless, there are an awful lot of mournful people wandering around Starbucks trying to decide whether or not to buy the grande latte or the cheaper cup of plain coffee.

And yet, I can assure you from personal experience that you can survive this experience if you follow the old military adage and, "Embrace the suck." Personally, I lost and found so many jobs that I was able to write, Landing on The Right Side of Your Ass: A Survival Guide for the Recently Unemployed in 2004. (Since then, I have learned that losing jobs and undiagnosed adult ADD are common bedfellows.)

For most of the years since publications, the kind of practical advice that I share in the book hasn't had much of an audience. Times were good, houses were free and a pit bull terrier was qualified for credit. But things have changed. The economy has driven headlong into a wall, fallen off a cliff, caught fire and had its ashes scattered by the wind. As a result, employers falling apart, and people are losing their jobs in record numbers. These are scary statistics to the employed, and the frightening new reality to the newly unemployed.

For those of you in the latter camp, I thought I'd dig up a few pieces of advice that helped me get through the initial, awful part of unexpected job loss. (For those of you who want more, feel free to buy my book on Amazon.)

1. Accept it: It's over. Whatever the job, good or bad, it is almost certainly gone forever. Do not sit around hoping that the company will rehire you: you'll save yourself a lot of time by making plans to move on.

2. Be depressed. You've just won the the bronze in the grief Olympics: you are supposed to be sad. You need to grieve for a couple of days (or weeks) to clear your head so that you can return faster to a semblance of sanity. (This much grief is a little deranging.)

3. Expect no sympathy. You are the economic equivalent of a plague carrier. Other unemployed people have their own problems; working people look at you and see their own potential for job woes. Even your friends and family are likely to be at a loss regarding how best to treat you. Just know that they mean well, even if they are acting like idiots.

This is all bad news, but the faster you can accept it, the more able you will be to take on the challenges ahead, and there will be plenty. Most you won't enjoy, but some of the hard decisions ahead of you will actually improve your life, potentially radically. So, no matter what happens, do what's necessary to find your inner optimist: you'll feel better and be a far more attractive job candidate.