Handling Job Loss as a Family

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You’d been hearing the rumors off and on that “changes” might be coming, and, despite declarations in the news that the recession is over, it hasn’t felt that way.

One day, you are called down to a conference room with 15 of your co-workers. You sit outside the room, waiting – dreading – your turn. But eventually, your name is called. The HR manager and your boss’ boss sit at one end of a very long table, and you take a seat at the other end. The walls seem especially cold and sterile.

The HR manager speaks: “The past several quarters have been very challenging for us. In the analysis of our operations, it has been decided to downsize. We regret to inform you that you will be laid off…

” You hear nothing past that point, save for the buzzing in your ears and your own jumbled thoughts:

“How can they do this to me? I’ve been doing such a good job!”

“Abby is just starting her senior year in high school. What are we going to do with college coming up?”

“The dentist recently referred Justin to an orthodontist for braces. There’s no way we can afford that now!”

“Why is this happening?”

“What is my family going to say?”

“My family…”

According to a study published in Occupational Medicine, unemployment is among the top 10 most stressful life events to experience. That’s not really a big surprise when you consider the impact that a job loss can have on one’s sense of self-worth.

One of the many sources of anxiety related to being laid off is having to share the news with the family. There’s the worry of losing face with your significant other and kids, of not being supported by your loved ones, and of being blamed for the reduction in the household standard of living if another position is not found quickly.

A natural tendency at a time like this is to shut out the entire world, including those closest to you. Unfortunately, keeping your family at arms’ length will make the situation worse, not better. You needthe support they have to give, now more than ever.

Here are some ways to bring your loved ones close when experiencing a job loss:

1. Talk with your significant other often. Ideally, your beloved would be the first person you would talk to about this news, even before breaking the news to the rest of the family. And then, even after you have shared the news with everyone, still reconnect regularly with that special person in your life to touch base and to get that all-important support.

2. If you have children, share in an age-appropriate manner. No matter their age, kids do pick up on shifts in the household – when someone who has been previously gone during the day is now around more, the stressful undertones that accompany a job loss, etc.

To keep the kids in the dark about what is happening can actually cause more anxiety for them, so it is better to share with children in a way that will fit with their age. MoneyWatch has an excellent breakdown by age for what information to share and how to share it.

3. Consider including extended family in the updates. I know the thought of telling immediate family about the job loss is bad enough; adding extended family to it seems impossible! However, the benefits of telling siblings, parents, and cousins – which can include an expansion of your network and additional support for you, your significant other, and your kids – make this a wise option.

4. Have fun! The last thing you may want to do when you are laid off is to whoop it up, but staying negative not only will strain your relationships with family members, it will detrimentally impact your job hunt efforts.

Look around for free or low-cost activities in your community, such as a visit to a local zoo or hiking on area nature paths. Taking a break from an intense job search and reconnecting with your family on a social outing strengthens the bonds with loved ones and keeps you from getting burnt out as you look for new employment.

By: Melissa Cooley / On: November 03, 2014 /

In: Balance, Career Transition, Stress