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How to Manage Job Loss Grief

Older depressed looking man sitting in a chair in his living room alone.

Many hard-working adults are noticing that good jobs seem to be going, going, gone – including their own. If you or someone you know has been affected by this startling statistic, here are six suggestions to help manage job loss grief.

Acknowledge the Loss

Getting over any type of loss takes time, and being “downsized” can be a major blow to someone’s self-esteem. Immediately following any personal crisis, many supportive people tend to jump in, offering advice and encouragement without first acknowledging the fears, frustrations and disappointments associated with job loss. For the person who lost the job, there is a true loss of identity, structure, routine, control and ideas about the future. There is also a loss of family-like relationships with now-former colleagues. When a job is lost, part of the individual’s sense of self may be lost as well. As a spouse, family member or friend, offer honesty and patience. Expect some tension in the relationship, but be flexible.

Be an Encourager

This is an opportunity to be their cheerleader and help build them up. Remind them of their greatness, awesome skills, strengths and abilities to overcome this personal challenge. Avoid cliché advice that minimizes the loss. Self-blame is likely when facing sudden losses, so try to encourage them and talk openly. They may be so beaten up that they can’t see beyond the present. You can offer emotional strength and let your support pour into their perhaps shattered life.

Be on the Same Team

If your spouse, family member or friend is experiencing job loss grief, let them know you are their biggest supporter and will do what it takes to help them get through this transitional time. It may mean agreeing to cut back on spending or freezing funds for non-essentials. Communicate that you are open to lifestyle changes in order to minimize burdens on your family. You are in this together. Try to balance the sensitivity of their concerns with your own financial and emotional fears of failure.

Join the Journey

Be another set of eyes and ears during their new job search. Learn more about other industries, job outlets and career possibilities. Acknowledge that this could happen again to anyone, and help them think broader. Maybe they need to learn a new skill or consider a new direction; you can join them in the journey. In the meantime, help organize the financial picture and conduct career research through newspapers, the Internet or other networking options.

Take a Break

For someone who loses their job, it is imperative they take care of themselves so their entire life doesn’t unravel. Their body and spirits will be stressed, and it is vital to keep balance in times of turmoil and change. Also, they will need to be attentive to other parts of their life that were booted to the back burner during this career crisis. Just as you are being intentional in being an active supporter and team member through this tough time, it is equally essential to take a break and a breather from your intense efforts, building fun and relaxation into their life.

Just Ask

If all else fails, just ask the person who lost their job how you can help. Ask them what they need, how you can be a source of motivation and strength and how you can help them manage this time of shock and grief. They may not ask for help for fear of imposing. When you lend your hand, it will help them focus on the task of finding a new job. Also, give them space to refocus, regroup and begin making tough choices to uncover the thick, mud-like blanket thrown over their life.

If you are the person affected by this devastating economic and workforce crisis, know that others care. Ask for help. You are not alone. There are resources in every community to help you manage and even excel in all areas of your life. You can begin today. Handling job loss is not easy, but it can also be a new beginning.

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