Gainful employment makes up a large part of a working adult's self-worth and identity, exceeding social and economic impact. Having a job or career allows an employee to earn income, gives their life meaning and structure, and provides the opportunity to socialize with others outside of their family. Getting let go of a job that forms part of a worker's identity can result in suffering through a painful loss and leading to grief in certain individuals.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Say to a Friend Who Lost Their Job
- What to Say to a Spouse or Partner Who Lost Their Job
- What to Say to a Colleague or Client Who Lost Their Job
- What to Say to a Parent Who Lost Their Job
People who have involuntarily lost their jobs may suffer from loss of identity, social connections, and purpose, creating a significant life change. The severity of individual grief suffered differs in every circumstance, but the length of time since the job loss isn't the main factor in the grief process's enduring. Giving the proper encouragement to someone who has lost their job can mitigate the effects of grief and depression.
What to Say to a Friend Who Lost Their Job
Finding the right words to say to someone who's lost their job can be challenging. However, when a friend suddenly finds themselves unemployed, you may want to say something that shows you care and understand their suffering. When consoling someone fired or let go recently from their job, consider any secondary losses they may face, like financial security, status, and identity.
Your friend can benefit from hearing words of encouragement for someone who lost their job as they struggle to make sense of this significant and potentially life-changing event. Here are some things you can say to help someone dealing with this loss.
1. “I’m sorry to hear you lost your job. I know how much you loved working there.”
Whenever someone loses their job, they want to hear that their loss is validated. Your friend isn't necessarily looking to get placated when they give you the bad news, and they may not have prepared for the adversity.
Offering words of sympathy shows empathy, understanding, and caring. A few kind words will go a long way in raising your friend's spirits, strengthening your friendship, and showing that you sympathize with them.
2. “My condolences on your job loss. Try to see this as an opportunity for growth as you figure out your next move.”
The disruption of one’s identity can lead to several grief reactions that range from mild to severe. Offering condolences to a friend who’s lost their job is a way to address their pain and suffering without minimizing what’s happened.
When you extend your sympathy and follow it with an alternative method of viewing their circumstances, it gives a person hope that things will get better despite this potentially major setback in their life and career.
3. “I feel terrible about your job loss. Let’s get together and come up with a plan.”
Many individuals place great value in their work and careers as it forms a significant part of their lives and helps provide financial security for themselves and their loved ones. The intensity of job loss-related grief varies from person to person and depends on how much their work ties to other aspects of the self, like the value of their social connections, status, and position.
Offering to help your friend pick up the pieces after getting fired or laid off encourages them and relieves some of the stress of the unknown.
What to Say to a Spouse or Partner Who Lost Their Job
Safeguarding your relationship after your spouse or partner loses their job can put your commitment to each other to the test. Unemployment can impact a person’s relationship with their significant other in many unexpected ways.
There’s the evident financial strain and hardship that follows losing your job, in addition to the emotional ebbs and flows each partner can experience as pressure to find a job mounts. Here are some ways to handle this delicate situation while saving your relationship.
4. “Take the time you need. I’ll help you get through this.”
While some people who lose their jobs are ready to look for another one, some individuals need to mourn and accept their loss. Employment is an important identity marker for many people, and the loss of a job can make them feel sad and discouraged.
Your partner may be feeling anxiety and distress from the separation from their workplace while yearning for their lost position. They may feel embittered or numb to everything around them, including their relationship with you stemming from the difficulty in accepting their loss and its implications. Try to reassure them that you’ll be there for them as long as it takes.
5. “You’re excellent at what you do. Another opportunity will come up.”
Help your partner keep their sanity and spirits high by highlighting what they do best in their chosen field and reminding them of the contribution they can make at another place of employment.
Give them positive feedback and reassurance that their circumstance is only a temporary setback. By encouraging your spouse or partner instead of adding to their frustration, you’ll give them a boost in self-assurance they may lack after losing their job.
6. “You’re not alone in this. You’ve got me to lean on.”
Help your loved one define their strengths so they don’t focus so much on the negatives of having lost their job. Together you can deal with the ups and downs that result from unemployment as you boost each other to get through this challenging time. Although you may also be internally battling a combination of feeling sympathy and frustration over your partner’s unemployment, this is the time to come together and support each other until a new job opportunity emerges.
What to Say to a Colleague or Client Who Lost Their Job
Knowing how to be there for someone who’s recently lost their job can help strengthen your relationships with your colleagues or clients suffering through a crisis. Involuntary job loss creates a psychological trauma that causes similar grief reactions to losing a loved one.
A person may experience an overall sense of worthlessness and depression after getting fired from their job. The following are ways to offer someone hope after losing their job.
7. “I heard what happened. Do you want to meet up?”
Extending an invitation to get together lessens the awkwardness between you and your coworkers or clients after one gets let go from their job. Suppose you and your former coworker or client worked closely on a project. In that case, meeting up for lunch provides an excuse to allow each of you to talk openly about what happened without feeling uncomfortable about the situation.
8. “I’m sorry they let you go. Do you mind if I reach out to employers I know to see if they have an opportunity for you?”
Sometimes you want to help out a former coworker or client in need, and having the right connections helps. If you think you can connect them to one of your professional contacts that might help them land a new job, ask for permission to put some feelers out on their behalf. Be careful not to disclose any personal information surrounding the firing and clarify how much you can say when making these phone calls.
9. “I heard they let you go. Let me know how I can help you.”
Employees who feel especially attached to their former job may suffer grief-like reactions lasting for several weeks or months, even after they’ve found new employment. A person who suffers through this type of setback benefits from having someone they can talk to who understands the significance of their loss and how much their work meant to them.
What to Say to a Parent Who Lost Their Job
Parents coping with losing their jobs regularly suffer from the fear of the unknown. Not knowing how they'll make ends meet when faced with financial loss creates a unique type of loss. A parent who's received the bad news of an involuntary layoff may suffer grief long after losing their job, especially in situations when the rest of their family depends on their income for necessities. Here are some ways to encourage your parent and let them know things will work out.
10. “I feel terrible about what happened. Let’s talk about how I can help you.”
Adult children should understand that their parents don't always have things figured out, and they need support and encouragement after suffering job loss. This life change brings added emotional and financial stress that your parent may not know how to confront.
The extent that particular loss has on their sense of self and emotional wellbeing depends on their role within their household as financial providers and caregivers. Below are some ideas of what to say to them to ease their stress.
11. “I know your job meant a lot to you. Something better will come your way.”
Losing their job might feel like an enormous setback in their career, and they may not know how to handle it. It’s tough for a parent who’s struggling to get back on their feet after being fired. They not only suffer being let go and all of the implications that come with that, but they also suffer feeling like they let down their family. Their self-esteem generally takes a hit, and the risk of depression increases.
12. “I’m sorry your job was eliminated. We’ll tighten our belts where needed.”
A stressful part of losing your job is not knowing when the next one will come along. Being unemployed changes not only your daily routine but also affects your budget and finances. Many people live paycheck to paycheck and depend on their income to pay the bills and provide for their families. Letting your loved one know that you’re willing to make the necessary changes in spending money helps them worry less about how they’ll get through this tough time.
Bouncing Back After a Job Loss
Unemployment can cause stress and depression in those affected by it. But it doesn’t have to harm the relationships you’ve built with your loved ones and colleagues. Treat your joblessness as temporary and maintain a positive outlook while being honest about your situation with others. When you keep a healthy perspective on your circumstances, you’ll find it easier to cope with your loss.