There is nothing more traumatic than being laid off. Although, most people who are laid off have a sense of the possibility - even the likely eventuality - the actual event is never easy. If you are fresh in that position, read on!
No one is going to eat you or your children. Almost certainly the worst that is likely to happen is far better than what you fear. As recommended in the book Learned Optimism, set aside time later in the day or week to sit and worry (don't be surprised if you don't feel the need to sit down and worry at the appointed hour - that's the idea).
Start to work now
Your job search is your new job. Start right now. There is a lot to do. It should be months before it occurs to you to be bored, but you'll likely have a job before then.
Make a financial assessment
Take the time to work out a new budget based on your available savings, unemployment benefits, severance package, spouse's income and any other available income. Remember, this is temporary. There are some things you can go without during this period that you would normally spend. You'll also avoid some expenses you've had - payroll taxes will be a big one. Be sure to budget for continuing your health insurance - don't leave the window open for this crisis to become a full on catastrophe.
Update your resume
It may have been a while since you updated your resume. Don't worry. In just a few hours, you can create a satisfactory resume. Before you start sending it to prospective employers, send a copy to two or three of your most successful friends and family members for review. Not only will the feedback be valuable, they may have job ideas or opportunities waiting.
You're your new boss. Congratulations! You've been promoted. Now, you need to hold yourself accountable. You're going to send dozens - maybe hundreds of resumes. You'll want to follow up on each one in a strategic way. If you don't have a good system for that, it will overwhelm you. JibberJobber.com offers a free or, to upgrade to the premium program, low cost service that will help you.
Optimally, you've already built a network of people with whom you have a good relationship. Reaching out to them will be second nature. If you haven't built that network, it will be harder, but still vitally important. Put yourself out there. Virtually everyone has been (or will be) where you are now. There is no shame. You have a lot to offer so serve it up. Don't be discouraged when people are too busy for lunch - offer to swing by their office for twenty minutes at their convenience. Not only is that easier for some people, but it eliminates the question about who buys lunch!
Tap your social network
You are almost certainly connected with a variety of people through Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If not, start today. It's actually fun. Be careful not to fritter away eight hours a day on social networking, but if you aren't spending an hour each day, you're not engaging enough. You can make a lot of progress in relationship building here and its generally free!
Being laid off is no fun. Unless you have a lot of money and it really has been a long time since you took a vacation, don't treat this time like a vacation. You've got a new job looking for a job. With a focus on the task at hand, you'll be back in the game soon.