Loss of Family Income
Jobs provide not only income, but bring to our lives financial stability, structure, purpose, meaning, and an avenue of social interaction and opportunity to be part of a team. When we lose a job we are impacted through the loss of financial stability, structure and meaning but we also feel a loss of confidence, instability and lack of control, and loss of identity.
What it feels like
The financial pressures can seem overwhelming when your family needs to be looked after and you are the one who has been responsible for this in the past. Losing the main source of income can send a family into a highly stressful time, financially and emotionally. Needs such as food, water, shelter, safety and security are under threat, when they may never have been before. If the person was the sole earner, their identity as the provider of their family is now also gone. These feelings can compound to be a highly stressful, destablising time for any family.
What you can do to support in the first 24-48 hours:
Check in on their situation regarding: Access to food, water, shelter and emergency savings
Provide emotional support / be there / listen / offer practical help if needed
Make a time to follow up
Loss of income can unleash a spectrum of emotions as well as financial and legal difficulties. Each individual will face their own unique needs for support – so it is important to work out with your friend what help they need.
Let them know you care
Let them talk through and process the loss, and their emotions
Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future
Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)
Support them if they have to go in to pack up their desk or workplace, return company property or collect forms and payslips
Support them to replace any possessions or services that may be linked to their employment – vehicle, phone, laptop, health insurance
Transport and lifts to appointments, shopping, interviews
Help them file for Centrelink/financial assistance (the sooner the claim is lodged the better)
1 Week on what now?
Losing your job can impact your finances, but also your confidence, self-esteem, social connections through work. Losing the family income may cause feelings of guilt, feeling like it is your fault that your family is suffering, and if you’d always seen yourself as a provider you struggle with the loss of your identity and meaning to life.
Following a job loss, the natural next step is applying for new jobs which can be an emotionally draining and time-consuming process. Pulling together applications with time pressured deadlines and dealing with rejection can take its toll on a person’s self-esteem and overall mental health. This is even harder when there are extra pressures of family life: finding time to apply for jobs in addition to parental responsibilities, keeping up with kid’s needs, making time to spend as a family and as a partner.
Providing support in the long term
Provide ongoing emotional support
Maintain your social connection and plan some activities to get the family involved in that don’t impact their budget
Support your friend and encourage them with making applications for jobs
Be there when they experience rejections to listen and support
Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards (applying for financial help, applying for jobs)
Be there to listen, support and boost their mood when they experience rejections and celebrate the wins no matter how small or big
Make plans to keep in touch and check in regularly
Keep the family involved in their social network
Prolonged unemployment can mean its harder for friends to stay positive. Make time for socialising and keeping their mind off things.
Assist them to find and apply for jobs, send them any leads you may have, help them prepare for interviews
Accompanying them to appointments for professional help – counselling, financial advice
Offer to help out with day to day tasks such as cooking, shopping, cleaning or childcare to give them time to put together and submit applications
Offer to be a support person for HR proceedings, work related legal matters. You don’t need to talk, just listen and take notes to talk through and be a sounding board after
Support them to review their finances, draw up a budget or find their local financial counselling services who they can speak to for free if things get to crisis point