When clients who have been laid off come to me for an initial consultation, I find they are frequently filled with feelings of grief, anger, anxiety and depression. Intellectually they may grasp that the loss of their jobs was not the result of performance but caused by management’s decisions to offset the economic impact of the current Great Recession. On an emotional level, they reveal open wounds caused by the lost structure and financial stability of jobs left behind. It is like a death in the family and heartbreaking for them and for me.
I encourage them to espress their feelings. Repressing powerful emotions is neither healthy nor conducive to moving forward. We discuss how they might process those feelings at their own pace. There is no rigid timetable for letting go of grief and the associated feelings the furloughed worker carries within him or her. I urge clients to cradle their emotions as they would a child, to be kind and gentle with themselves. During this initial phase they might treat themselves to a min-vacation to rest and recharge their batteries. They might wish to engage their clergy or a therapist to share their pain, although in my role as a chaplain, I can assume that role if that is their wish. I also encourage them to volunteer for short term assignments in their communities to take their minds off their troubles while serving others.
As scar tissue begins to form over their wounds, we begin our work together. We take up the exciting new challenge of identifying and finding work they love.