My sister just emailed and let me know her husband lost his job. A flood of memories came back as I recalled the day I experienced the same thing. We had just arrived in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to start my husband's new job. The day happened to be 9/11. The 9/11 we all know too well. We were a young family, with just one little baby, excited for our newest adventure. We signed a lease, unpacked our truck and started our new job amidst the chaos that was going on in the country. Three days later, my husband was notified that he had lost his job as a direct effect from the 9/11 attacks. I had uprooted my family, moved halfway across the country from my home, and felt completely lost in the world. I remember initially having a hard time holding back the tears and wondering about our future. It was an interesting situation because we had just signed a one-year lease and our landlord would not budge on letting us out of it. We had no family to lean on, no friends to house us, and no savings since we had just used every bit of it to move our family across the country.
In reflection, I realize that losing a job is not unlike other situations in life that cause shock and the need for the grieving process. This well-known process is not reserved for dealing solely with death. It may be needed in life-changing situations such as, moving across the country and losing a job.
Here are the steps I took to get out of my funk and back on my feet so we could move forward:
1. Allow yourself time to deal with the job loss. Not too much, but still allow it. Losing a job is something that is life-changing. Your body will need to go through some or all of the
grieving steps including denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
2. Lean on friends and family, even if it's just through a phone call. Having the chance to talk to loved ones and express my fears, sadness, and concerns helped me sort through what I was feeling.
3. Cling to your loved ones. Life changing events can either make loved ones closer or tear them apart. Given the choice, I chose to cling to my loved ones. Until you get back on your feet, make your spouse and children your number one priority and cherish what you have, rather than what you have lost. Our little family became closer that year than we ever had before because we were all we had!
4. Go out and serve someone less fortunate than you. My grandmother lost her husband when she was a very young mom. The one piece of advice she used the most was from a letter written by her mother-in-law which said, "Go out and serve." She told me that she made an awful lot of bread that year. This lesson struck me as I went through this trial of losing our job. If you take a moment to step outside of your own troubles, you may find that others may be worse off. Whether it's feeding the homeless or simply helping an elderly person with their groceries, it helps you not get so caught up in your own situation.
5. "Get back on the horse" as they say. There are things you can do to continue progressing forward! I was so impressed with my husband's humility as he, with a college degree and post-graduate training in his career, started substitute teaching high school and delivering pizzas to make sure our family was taken care of until he could get back into his field of choice. It may be humbling to "step backwards" or choose another direction from the career you were planning, but eventually things will turn around in your favor. Don't spend so much time feeling sorry for yourself that you miss out on opportunities all around you.
Losing a job is devastating and affects every aspect of your life. Take the time to be sad, but don't lose sight of your ultimate goal and keep working toward it. You are not the only one in your situation, and this storm shall pass!