Have you ever lost your job or do you know someone who lost their job?
I was in my teens when my dad lost his job. He was not fired, he was not made redundant. Simply the state research institute he was working in vanished one day after perestroika, leaving over 2,000 employees unemployed with no redundancy payments, no unemployment benefits, no support. Nothing, absolutely nothing at all…
There were hardly any other jobs around at that time. Factories were closing one after another. Those who managed somehow to keep their jobs were often forced to take unpaid leave for 2-3 days a week or were not paid at all for months and months and months… They kept getting monthly payslips without pay.
“We’ll be OK”, my dad said, shrugging his shoulders and putting away his business suit, “I’ll find some work”.
Dad started his career in one of the deepest and most dangerous coal mines in the world working at the depth of 720 meters. All his family and mates were coal miners.
As he was a very bright young man, he was selected to go to the University where he got a degree in electrical engineering. Gradually he worked his way up to the executive level in this state research institute.
No matter how high my dad progressed on the career ladder, he always stayed in touch with his old mates from the coal mine and University. Friends with whom he has done lots of odd jobs to support himself through his younger days. Now he was worried about them. His old coal mine was closed with all coal miners left without jobs.
Some of his University friends, who ended up in different parts of the USSR after graduating from the University, not only lost their jobs but were also forced to leave places where they lived with their families for a few decades.
“At least we still have a roof over our heads. They are less lucky than us,” my dad sighed.
I felt sorry for him and his mates, who were working so hard all their lives and than lost everything…. How can you be a man if you can’t financially support your family? Old traditional views on gender roles were adding insult to injury, putting even more pressure on the men of my dad’s generation. Not surprisingly, suicide became prevalent among middle-aged men at that time…
Dad was also worried about his secretary, who was close to the retirement age. In her age she had no chance of finding another job.
“I can always go back to working as an electrician or get some odd jobs. It will be so much harder for her,” he sighed.
Since then, I’ve seen lots more people going through painful experience of losing a job. My own family was not spared with my own partner losing jobs twice in the last 15 years.
First experience was particularly painful, as my partner’s job was our only source of income. I was still waiting for the approval of my residency application and therefore had no legal right to work. To make things worse, we were expecting our first child. Second time was so much easier, as I had a job by then and therefore was in a much better position to support our family through that painful experience. We’ve also learnt a lot by then about all DO’s and DON’Ts of losing a job, summarised very well in Shannon Smith’s article:
1. DON’T panic: There are always options, and the key is to let yourself have the time and space to determine what those are;
2. DO accept your situation: Once you’ve given your emotions space to exist, you can start to see the big picture more clearly, enabling you to act in ways that will help you and your career.
3. DON’T clamp up: The shame of job loss can scare people away from healthy and productive social interactions. But that only increases the negative pressure on an already stressful situation. Whether you participate in social networking, real-life networking in your industry, volunteering or taking a class, putting yourself out in the world is often the path to new ideas, opportunities and energy. Yes, even when you’d rather retreat and stay home alone.
4. DO rethink your priorities: separate your wants from your needs and make the necessary changes to reflect your new financial reality.
5. DON’T neglect your well-being: Watch your stress levels, whether that means taking up meditation, yoga, or simply trying to smile more.
6. DO take a balanced view of your situation: refocus on the positive aspects of your life, your nearest and dearest….
“…We’ve gotta hold on to what we’ve got…
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot…”
- Image 2 from http://www.photosight.ru/photos/1787191/
- Image 3 from dailymail.co.uk