If you know someone who has recently lost a job, there are various ways you can help. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Acknowledge the loss. You may feel you don’t have the right words, but it’s important that you acknowledge that the person has lost their job. He or she may not feel like talking about it straight away, but when the time comes you have demonstrated that you are sympathetic and willing to listen. It can feel shameful to lose a job, even if it’s not the person’s fault, but it’s important that they don’t isolate themselves and that they can talk about it.
Find out if you can help. Ask if there’s anything practical you can do. This might simply be a case of listening to the person or meeting them for coffee on their last day. Or it could be that they need your prayer support, either in person or remotely. Whatever it is, try to accommodate these requests.
Help them to maintain their identity. When a person loses a job it can feel as though their identity has been stripped away. They may have gone from a prestigious role to being on the unemployment line. Help them see that they are more than just a breadwinner or a job title. While status and a regular salary can be very helpful, they don’t represent who the person is. They haven’t lost their core identity. You could write a description of how you see the person and tell them how appreciated they are.
Give them time. It might seem obvious that they need to find a job as soon as possible, particularly if they have significant financial commitments. However, it may be that he or she needs time to process the change and move on. There may be a feeling of hopelessness and even worthlessness. Allow the person to rest and seek God at this difficult time. It may be helpful to introduce distractions, for example days out or coffee dates, but don’t expect too much too soon and don’t assume that keeping busy is the only way to get over this loss.
Support them in their pursuit of a new role. When the time comes, they may need your help in securing a new opportunity. Take time going through the job pages of a newspaper or website together. Encourage them to keep an open mind and to keep going if nothing immediate crops up. Help them to write a new CV or job application, checking for mistakes and offering support where needed. Practise interview questions with them if they are offered the opportunity. And when they do find a new job, celebrate with them and help them to believe in themselves. Pray throughout this journey, together if you can.
It can be difficult to support someone at a time like this, but don’t underestimate the value of your affirmation and practical help. It can make a real difference to know that someone has your back and is with you when your life seems to have collapsed around you. Even small gestures can have a big impact, so ask God to help you say the right things and give the best possible support.
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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25