Navigate job loss discussions with loved ones with these concrete strategies.
Job loss is often enormously stressful. Telling your partner, family, and friends that you’ve lost your job may be one of its most difficult parts. While it can be difficult to anticipate and start a conversation about your job loss, preparing ahead of time can help you through it. Here are some suggestions for how to prepare for telling your loved ones about your job loss.
Being thoughtful about how, when, and where you will tell your loved ones about your job loss can support a smoother discussion.
Consider the following as you prepare to tell any of your loved ones (partner, kids, parents, etc.) about your job loss:
Consider telling your partner/spouse about your job loss as soon as possible while also ensuring the time and setting are appropriate. Delaying the discussion can increase any anxiety you might be feeling about telling your partner. During the conversation, do your best to be honest and clear about what’s happened. You can also share how you feel about it, any ideas you have for next steps, and/or express a commitment to look for another job. Examples:
Your partner will also likely want to know all relevant information about your job loss. Gather and share any details related to your severance (if relevant), your retirement plan (if relevant), health insurance (if relevant), etc. Examples:
Consider having relevant information written down so your partner can read through it.
Your partner/spouse may have their own strong feelings about your job loss. Do your best to understand your partner’s perspective and allow them to express their feelings without trying to change how they feel. Telling your partner that their feelings make sense can help prevent the conversation from turning into an argument. Examples:
Since you’re also likely experiencing strong feelings, consider talking with your partner about how you can best support one another. You can consider making agreements to support each other through behaviors such as:
It’s important to be honest with kids about your job loss and to reassure them that you’ll be looking for a new job and that their lives won’t likely change much. Be sure that the words you use and the details you share are appropriate for your child’s age. Very young kids can be told that you are no longer working at your old job and that you will now be looking for a new job. School-age kids can hear more details, such as:
For older kids who might want to help, consider giving them opportunities for helping out like doing extra chores, assisting their younger siblings, etc.
What you share with your extended family and friends depends on your level of comfort and what’s likely to be most helpful for you. The family and friends you’re comfortable with will likely want to support you through this time, and it may be helpful to seek emotional support from them. Your family and friends may also be able to provide practical support (childcare, networking, sorting finances, etc.). Examples:
With people you are less close to or people who haven’t supported you in the past, you may only want to share the most necessary details. Example:
Remember that you get to decide how much to share based on what is likely to be most helpful to you during this challenging time.
During stressful times, one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your loved ones is to be consistent with routines. Continue with family or friendship rituals like meal times, story time, game nights, and weekend outings. However, you may need to tell your loved ones that some choices might be limited for financial reasons.
If you need more support talking to your family or coping with job loss, seeking care from a mental health professional can be very helpful. If it’s an option for you, consider seeking care through extended health benefits or a low-cost community clinic. Seeking care can support new ways of thinking and help you get you back on track.
Know that you aren’t likely to feel or behave at your best while dealing with job loss. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges you’re facing and to take good care of yourself. Strive to offer yourself kindness, get sleep, take breaks, lean on your family, etc. Try to treat yourself how you would treat someone you care about if they were going through job loss.