Five Ways To Help a Friend Who Has Lost Her Job


Five Ways To Help a Friend Who Has Lost Her Job

Jan 12, 2015 //

It’s common for people to define themselves by what they do. As a
result, losing a job can be devastating. When people are fired or
terminated from employment, they often feel as if they’ve suddenly lost a
major part of their identity.

In addition to the loss of a regular paycheck, which can have a
significant impact, other profound losses occur. Daily routines are
replaced with unfilled hours. When that person no longer gets to see the
same co-workers she is used to seeing all the time, loneliness and
feelings of social isolation can quickly set in.

Job loss can also shatter someone’s self-confidence, leaving the
person feeling ashamed and embarrassed about what other people know,
what they are thinking, and what they are saying. If your friend
perceives that the firing was unfair and no fault of her own, she may be
angry and resentful—at her former employer, at her co-workers, or at
other people who had nothing to do with the job loss. Over time, many
people who are unemployed become depressed and feel hopeless about the

Given the practical problems like finances, and emotional setbacks
associated with losing a job, it can be tough being a good friend to
someone in this situation. Here are five tips for being the best friend
you can be:

Be a Good Listener

It’s important for your friend to be able to talk about what happened
with someone she trusts. Don’t listen with one ear: carve out time from
your schedule to listen attentively. When you get together, resist
asking invasive questions that will make her more uncomfortable;
instead, allow her to tell you as much as she wants when she wants.
Don’t try to talk her out of being sad or feeling hurt, or give her the
impression you’re trying to minimize her problems by telling her about
all the other people you know who have recently lost jobs. Simply tell
her you’re so sorry for her loss and want to help.

Reach Out

Some people are so humiliated after losing a job that they don’t even
tell their closest friends. If you’re a good friend (as opposed to a
casual acquaintance) to the person who has lost her job and you’ve heard
about what happened from someone else, don’t pretend that you don’t
know. Take the initiative to contact your friend and open the door to

Find Concrete Ways to Help

If she just lost her job, your friend is probably reeling. After a
week or so though, when she gets more used to the idea of being
unemployed, figure out concrete ways you can help. You may offer to work
on her resume with her, for example, when she’s up to it. You can also
keep her informed on job leads or networking opportunities you may hear
about. If she needs a small loan to tide her over until she receives
severance pay or unemployment, you may choose to offer to help if you’re
able to. If you’re going to go this route, make sure you feel 100
percent comfortable with doing so. Then you’ll want to agree on terms of
repayment beforehand, and be sure to never loan more money than you can
afford to lose.

Spend Quality Time Together

Remind her that work is only one part of her life. Invite her to do
some of the things you’ve both enjoyed doing together in the past,
whether it’s going for a walk, or going out to dinner or a movie. If
your friend is ruminating about the job loss and wallowing in misery,
the distraction will be good for her. Bear in mind that your friend may
be concerned about spending money without an income. If you can afford
it, and would like to, you could offer to pay for an excursion. If
you’re splitting the costs, make sure you’re mindful of her budget and
suggest free or low-cost options.

Watch For Signs of Depression

Extended unemployment can exact a terrible toll. If you notice that
your friend is having sleep problems, is eating too much or too little,
abusing alcohol, is very sad, and/or has no energy—and this seems to
be persisting or worsening, suggest that your friend seek help from a
mental health professional and help her access available resources in
the community.

Irene Levine

Irene S. Levine, PhD is an award-winning freelance journalist, author, and blogger who writes about travel, health and lifestyles. As a friendship and relationship expert, she provides information and advice to readers, blogging for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. She created The Friendship Blog, which is read by people from around the globe, and authored the book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend (Overlook Press, 2009). Trained as a psychologist, Irene holds a faculty appointment as a professor at the New York University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. She is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

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