How To Support Someone Who Was Recently Laid OffFeb 04, 2024
Someone you know may have lost their job this week. It’s a new year, and as we see a new cycle of large corporate layoffs dominating headlines, we want to remind you of what’s often unspoken in conversations about getting fired: grief.
When that rug gets pulled out from under someone, it leaves them scrambling to regain footing– not only financially. Even if it wasn’t the perfect job, it likely provided stability, purpose, and community. Without it, someone you care about might be feeling lost in terms of who they are.
So, as a friend or colleague of someone who was laid off, you want to help. But might feel a bit lost on what to do or say, especially if you’ve never experienced this kind of loss, yourself. Questions swirl: Should I ask them how they’re doing, or should I give them space? What can I realistically do to make a difference during such a challenging time? Will sending them job leads feel insensitive?
It’s ok to feel unsure– but it’s essential that we show up for people we care about when they’re going through a challenging time. Job loss grief is real, and t you have the power to make a difference for someone going through it in small, meaningful ways.
Here are 7 ways to support someone who was recently laid off:
Listen up: Rather than jumping in with solutions or advice, start by simply listening to how they're feeling. Let them express how they’re feeling without judgment or interruption. Once you better understand their needs, then you can offer aid if it feels appropriate.
Validate their grief: Let your friend know that it's okay to feel sad, angry, lost, or even relieved. Losing a job can stir up a mix of emotions, and it's important for them to know that what they're experiencing is valid– and you can name it all as grief: the collection of feelings we experience when we face a loss.
Show up: While it's important to acknowledge their feelings, it's also okay to spend time with them doing other kinds of activities together– maybe some welcome distractions from the stress of the loss . Offer to spend time together doing activities they enjoy, whether it's watching a movie, going for a hike, or trying out a new hobby.
Share your experiences tactfully: While it's valuable to share your own experiences with job loss if you've been through it, you should tread lightly. Avoid comparing their situation to yours or hijacking their grief with your own story. Instead, offer your experiences as a source of guidance if they're open to it. Say something like, "I've navigated through what I think are similar feelings before, and I'm happy to share what helped me. But I understand if you'd rather not hear about it right now." That way, you're extending a supportive hand without overshadowing their own journey.
Offer job search support–with their consent: Before cold-sending job opportunities, check in with your friend first. Ask if they would be open to receiving help with their job search, and if so, take the time to understand their skills, interests, and preferences. Only share leads that you genuinely believe could be a good fit for them. This ensures that your support is tailored to their needs and respects their autonomy in the job search process.
Be patient, but be persistent: Grief doesn't have a timeline, and neither does the job search process. Continue to check in on your friend regularly– even months later– offering support and encouragement along the way. Celebrate their small victories and remind them that whatever they're feeling is valid.
Remind them of their inherent worth: If you notice your friend starting to spiral into a "grief doom hole," gently remind them that their value as a person is not defined by their productivity or their job title. Emphasize their unique qualities, strengths, and contributions beyond their professional identity. Let them know that you appreciate and admire them for who they are, not just for what they do. Sometimes, a simple reminder of their inherent worth can provide a much-needed perspective shift during challenging times.
Remember, everyone's journey through job loss is unique, and it's okay to not have all the answers. What matters most is showing up.
If you or someone you know is struggling with job loss, here are some additional resources that may be helpful:
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