Is there anything consoling to someone who's lost their job?
March 6, 2009 6:37 AM   Subscribe

She got canned. But what do I do?

My girlfriend just found out that her last day of work is in three weeks. She was told that it was a corporate decision and not performance-based. She'll be eligible for unemployment so we won't be in dire straits right away..But I guess none of those details matters really, I just want to know what I can do to help or be more supportive.

What could I do?
What could I say to keep her positive?
What could your loved ones have done to make things easier for you when you lost your job?

Thank you for your insights.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't let her feel like it's a big deal. Really. I just lost my job due to economic bigtrouble and the worst is the people who wince when they find out and say, "whoa it's tough out there." I mean, it's empathy and all, but it really doesn't help.

Encourage her to stick to her normal schedule--get up, get dressed, go for a walk/bike ride and then get back on the job search. It's the only way. But really, this isn't a big deal. It's a chance for a new beginning. Good on you for wanting to help her out.
posted by sweetkid at 6:42 AM on March 6, 2009

My fiance just lost her job last week. We saw it coming for a while (about a month), but it still sucks - especially given the current economic climate, AND we just bought a new house last August.

One thing that we took away from her situation was that now was the chance for her to do something that she really loved. I can support us while she goes to school or searches for something new. The idea that a whole new world opened up to her, job wise, was very exciting and it made her look forward to figuring out what that was.

Losing your job isn't all bad - you get time off, you can find a better job, you can get back into shape (I got her a gym membership and she is using it every day), you can get stuff/projects done around the house.

The fact is that losing your job is temporary and allows you the time to do the things that you normally wouldn't have the time/energy to do otherwise. Sit down and figure out what these things are and encourage her to do them. It will keep her happy/sane while she is job hunting and will provide some purpose to her time off other than just sitting at home feeling sorry for herself.
posted by Brettus at 6:43 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Go buy her a small but sweet and fragrant bouquet of carnations, preferably white or pink, with one or two other things in the bouquet (leaves, baby's breath, etc.). This won't be an overly expensive posy - it will be, as such things go, very reasonably priced.

When you give it to her -- as soon as humanly possible, including lunch today -- tell her that it's not the most expensive flower you could give her, but it's sweet and fresh and from the heart, and even if it had cost twenty times as much, it wouldn't convey one thousandth of the love and affection you feel for her.

When you take her to lunch or dinner or out for the picnic or make her a meal at your place, hold her hands, look her straight in the eye, and tell her sincerely that changes like jobs are rough and scary, but that's why it's so good to have each other to hold steady during times like these.

Make a list of all her positive qualities -- all of them -- categorized. The ones that are more "marketable" can go on a wallet-sized card, so that she can read them when she goes for a job interview or when she's feeling a little woobly at work. The ones that are more important can go into a lovely greeting card or wall-hangable self-made poster that you can give her when you feel the time is right. All of them can go across your lips and into her ear several times a day.
posted by amtho at 6:46 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

First buy her a huge bouquet of flowers, and tell her you love her. If you can spare the money buy her a visit to a spa for a facial and a massage.

Do you live with her? If so clean your house top to bottom - it'll really enable her to relax.

Do you share a computer? Clear off all the games and porn and giver her a nice workspace for job searching. Are there steps you can take to help her update her resume? Here's a idea: go out to the office supply store and buy a pack of nice paper for her to print her resume on... Stock up on stamps and envelops - you know, little clerical things like that can take a lot of the work out of bouncing back.

There are some personal behavior things you can modify that will help de-stress this time: for starters cut back on your own spending. No more comic books or Benny Hanna for a while. Show her that you're capable of tightening your belt as well.

Good luck to you both!
posted by wfrgms at 6:46 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Do you share a computer? Clear off all the games and porn and giver her a nice workspace for job searching. Are there steps you can take to help her update her resume? Here's a idea: go out to the office supply store and buy a pack of nice paper for her to print her resume on... Stock up on stamps and envelops - you know, little clerical things like that can take a lot of the work out of bouncing back."

I like this advice. Doing this work for her, or at least including yourself in on this work with her will make her feel not so "alone" in her job search. Doing as much preliminary work for her so she can focus on the important part may take a load off of her shoulders.

Good advice, wfrgms.
posted by Brettus at 6:50 AM on March 6, 2009

When I got laid off last fall, my husband made me a Fuckit Bucket.

"When shit gets you down just say 'Fuck it,' and eat some motherfuckin' candy."
posted by junkbox at 7:03 AM on March 6, 2009 [11 favorites]

When my girlfriend got laid off we had a two-person party. It was just the two of us but we worked in all the standard party stuff: appetizers, drinks, intelligent conversation ("It's time for intelligent conversation now!"), music, mingling ("It's time for small talk!"), and of course making out. Maybe you could come up with something fun and slightly weird for her last day to take her mind off things?
posted by donblood at 7:57 AM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Good advice here. Definitely be upbeat and have a party (even if that just means ordering out for pizza and eating it in your pajamas with cheap wine). Every time I've lost a job it's led to a better life in one way or another. Good luck to you both!
posted by languagehat at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2009

All good suggestions so far.

When I was laid off in November, my wife was helpful in cutting her spending and asking what steps needed to be taken to ensure we "stayed afloat" financially. With unemployment benefits, we weren't in a squeeze at all. Try working on a budget with her, so she KNOWS she'll be comfortable. Encourage her to call her utility providers (cable, phone, internet) and ask for savings or a lower plan.

My wife and I planned our meals out during the weekend and went grocery shopping on Sunday. This made it possible to make a menu of meals, re-use items that we could buy in bulk and took the guesswork out of the week. It also gave me something to look forward to and to work on. Otherwise I'd sit at home and snack my brains out on junk food.

Does she have any "part-time" skills or hobbies that could turn a profit? I worked as an event marketer (street team) to help get me out of the house and stay active.

And check this article for things NOT to say ... I found it on, who have a LOT of articles on job hunting, lay off precautions, etc.
posted by steeb2er at 8:15 AM on March 6, 2009

As above say, the best attitude you can foster is "it was just a job, no big deal, you'll have better jobs later anyway...."
posted by rokusan at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2009

i got laid off at the end of january. the general response i got was "dude, that sucks. lemme know if there is anything i can do." which is fine.

what not to say: "well, you're not the only one! millions have lost their jobs!" yeah. we know. but knowing other people don't have jobs doesn't help with the fact that we just lost our job.

if she wants to take a week and wallow in her pajamas and eat ice cream and watch soaps, let her do it guilt free. after that, just be encouraging about the job search or whatever. help fill out the unemployment paperwork if she wants help (it was more confusing than i thought it would be).

basically, just continue on as normal.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:01 PM on March 6, 2009

I spent about 8 weeks out of work due to being laid-off (from Nov. 08 to early Feb. 09). Having a gym membership and registering for an art class at the local community center were both a huge help in keeping my mood up and keeping me on schedule with the rest of the world while applying for jobs all day from home (or library, or coffee shop). If you can afford to help with something like either of these things, I think your gf will make it through in better spirits. As others have said, your feelings fluctuate every day from incredible excitement over potential opportunities to total desperation. Just be mindful of this and keep stressing that this was perhaps a "blessing in disguise."

I also second the "lets do things on a budget" together except for maybe one night a week where you treat her to a nice dinner or other date activity. You never know when the roles will be reversed and she will need to lean on you for the extra little things that make life more enjoyable. Best of luck.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 2:49 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

As others have said, losing a job can be an opportunity rather than a burden. She has some time off now! Yay!!!!! She can relax a bit. If finances allow, maybe go on a trip or take a class. Take the chance to consider whether she's really doing what she wants to be doing and if not, whether pursuing something else is possible. The worst thing she can do is sit around and mope about being unemployed. That's a waste of this precious break from working.

Stress your unconditional love. Mr. Walla did this for me at a critical time of professional self-doubt, and I never forgot it.
posted by walla at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2009

It was almost five years ago when my fiancee (now wife) was laid off in an economic move two weeks before our wedding. We called a few sympathetic friends and went out for a long night of bar hopping that ended with me carrying her out of a dive bar.

Luckily, she had wedding related things to distract her in the short term. She went back to school (previously only had a few community college hours) and now is almost finished with her Masters degree (December!).

Needless to say, she never would have taken the opportunity to go back to school without the push. I'm not saying your girlfriend should go back to school, but she should look at this an opportunity to do something that she previously wouldn't have done.

Also, seconding the suggestions about cleaning the apartment, doing the laundry, etc.
posted by jmevius at 12:42 PM on March 13, 2009

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