Your loved one lost their job.
The unemployment rate in the United States in August was at 6.1 percent, according to recent numbers. And although that’s a dip from the 6.2 percent of unemployed Americans from July, people in the country are still losing their jobs.
Losing a job can be one of the most stressful things that people go through. And it makes us grieve in much of the same way we do when we lose someone close to us.
Grieving — whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one or losing your employment — often requires more than just letting your emotions flood out, according to a study from Stanford University. It also requires focusing on the positive in an otherwise bad situation. Grieving too much can give people depression that has long-term effects on our well-being.
So how do you help your loved one when they’ve lost their job?
Know what you should (and shouldn’t) say
According to Fast Company, there are seven things that you shouldn’t say to someone who has just become unemployed. This is because certain statements can alienate your loved one, who may feel that you are not supporting them, or plant false ideas in their head that perpetuate a feeling of helplessness.
The list includes telling someone that everything will be all right, or that everyone is losing their jobs right now. These kinds of comments offer a negative outlook on the job market and may discourage your loved one from trying to find something for their future, Fast Company reported.
“When someone loses their job, (unless they really didn't need that job) they're feeling scared, they don't know what will happen tomorrow or the next day,” according to Fast Company. “They may have a family or a mortgage, or kids in college.”
So instead of enabling negative thoughts, it may be best to give them some encouraging words — like, you know, where some available jobs are, and that you'll do your best to be there for them despite the recent event.
Talk it over with them
Focus on the Family made it very simple — communication is the key to helping your loved one when they lose a job. That's because connections with others may help your loved one feel more supported and included in the working world.
“Family, church and work contacts will help you feel that you are not in this alone,” Focus on the Family tells those who lost a job. “You are going through a process that is different for each person, and those who know you best will be sensitive to that.”
Talking to your loved one about their loss can help them understand and accept their situation so that they can eventually overcome it.
Make way for the “Neutral Zone”
You know that period in between your last job and your next one? That’s called the “Neutral Zone,” according to “Transitions,” a book written by change consultant William Bridges, which Next Avenue, a website dedicated to employment information, wrote about.
So what’s the deal with the “Neutral Zone?" Well, it’s the period where your loved one is looking for a new opportunity and reflecting on the job they just had, and it’s important for you to support them during this time of their life.
“Don’t make the mistake of automatically thinking that someone who just lost a job is better off staying busy. He may need a little time to decompress,” according to Next Avenue. “Once he’s ready for more activity, offer support by bringing more balance to his life and nurturing his best self. This may take the form of helping him explore a childhood passion or catch up on projects he's queued up for years.”
Help them search for a new job
So they’ve lost a job. Now it may be time for them to get a new one.
According to Madelyn Mackie, a job hunting expert, there are some different ways to help someone find a job. One recommendation is to keep patient and know that other job opportunities will surface with time.
Mackie also suggested that loved ones enjoy the transition by spending more time together outside of the home. Showing them that there are plenty of other things to do besides work can help them see the brighter side of life and keep them from falling into the pits of despair.
Don’t lose interest in them
According to The Huffington Post’s Elizabeth Killingsworth, those who lose their jobs are bound to go through a grieving process. At first, friends and families are eager to offer new job leads and career contacts, but then, the interest and information wanes.
Keep pushing forward after this time and continue to show that you care enough about them to help them move forward.
Don’t make it about you
As Mackie noted in the article, don’t make this about you. It’s about them and their job loss.
Don’t push your ideas and thoughts too much on them, Mackie said. Just listen to what they have to say and what they’re going through. They’re the one that lost the financial security and have to find a new working opportunity.
“Everyone is different and a career transition is a very personal life change,” Mackie said. “They will figure it out in their own time, in their own way. The best thing you can do is be a sounding board for when they are ready to talk.”
Support their grief
Losing a job isn’t an easy thing to handle. And your now unemployed loved one will need a little help in getting over the loss.
“For some people, loss of a job is like a death; it can feel like the end of financial security, of a reason to get up in the morning and of professional identity,” according to Global Post.
So while they’re grieving over the loss of their job, they’re going to need some support and comfort along the way. Let them cry when they want to, or be the sounding board when they need to spew some venomous words about their previous employer.
Global Post explained that being there for them — being that shoulder to cry on — can do a lot of good for helping them move past the job loss.