During the COVID pandemic many West Australians are dealing with unemployment for the first time. Losing a job because of something out of your control can be hard to come to terms with.

Dr Gonzalez, Director and Clinical Psychologist of the Centre of Psychological Enrichment (COPE), talks us through some things to consider when talking to a friend in this situation.

A loss of a job has numerous ramifications for individuals, and many can associate a loss of job as a loss of some aspect of themselves which brings about fragmentation and anxiety.

When Clare (31) lost her job as a Human Resource Consultant due to COVID-19, she really did not know what to do. She talks about feeling completely understanding of her bosses’ position when she was told, but felt angry when the news sunk in’.

Your loved one is grieving

Dr Gonzalez recommends remembering that when a loved one loses their job it’s a type of loss, and it’s likely that they are experiencing grief. Clare talks about having no idea what her next step was as she had no time to plan for this. She was agitated and couldn’t focus as she kept ‘transitioning from anger to worry’.

‘Try to give them a moment to express the difficulties they may be going through. Acknowledge their grief and frustrations and let them know that you are available to listen to their concerns,’ says Dr Gonzalez.

We tend to go straight into ‘Saviour Mode’

It is often our first instinct to comfort a friend by finding a solution. Dr Gonzalez calls this ‘Saviour Mode’. Rushing into solutions can ‘be invalidating at times, and the individual may feel they may need to move on quickly without experiencing emotions such as sadness and anger’. Understanding and empathy can be much more helpful.

Let them do the talking

When we care about someone, we want to take away their pain and concentrate on the positives. Dr Gonzalez emphasises how important it is that your loved one has a chance to come to these conclusions by themselves. A good place to start is to say something like:

I’m so sorry to hear the news. I know you enjoyed that job and you were dedicated. How are you feeling?

Remember that you are not their counselor, you are a person who cares and all you can do is listen. There may come a time when you can give more practical advice on the next steps, but let them get there first.

If you’re worried about your loved one and how they’re coping, or if you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to call Lifeline 13 11 14.

Image credit: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash