DO’s and DON’Ts of losing a job

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…

On the rise: The suicide rate among men is at its highest for a decade according to figures from the Office for National Statistics with the sharpest increase among men aged between 45 and 59

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…”



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18 thoughts on “DO’s and DON’Ts of losing a job

  1. Something of which we were so ignorant in the euphoria of perestroika. Thank you.

  2. When I first started working, an elderly worker gave me the advice,”always pay your rent first”. He reminded me that we could live without most things, or find ways to make due….I have lived by that. My mom instilled in me,”if you can scrub a toilet and clean a house, you can always find work”. She was right-I have been down the road of poverty…priorities are so important…

    • Otrazhenie says:

      So true. Very good advice. Totally agree with your mum too. I kick-started my career in my new land by doing voluntary unpaid work with elderly people: feeding them, cleaning after them etc. I would not hesitate with scrubbing toilets too if I needed that to feed my family.

  3. I love your story and this list, which I think is applicable when you are going through any troubled time. I thank you for always looking for the positive aspects!

  4. notewords says:

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Currently in an “in-between” job state and this post really spoke to me. Thanks for that! It is helpful to have positive reminders that are still realistic with regards to the situation :). You wrote with the perfect balance of “suck it up” and “I feel for yah” .

  6. Otrazhenie says:

    Reblogged this on Otrazhenie and commented:

    I published this post 5 years ago and decided to reblog it today as so many people around the world are losing their jobs and struggling financially now. Do not despair – there are always options out there. Give yourself the time and space to identify them, rethink your priorities and refocus on the positive aspects of your life. Take care and stay well.

  7. madeline2020 says:

    Losing a job is not fun. Its happened to me a few times. Once just after i bought a new house, and my father ( who lived with me because he was very sick) died. I was out of work for a year, and just as money was running out i accepted a position in a totally new field. Each time, i learned new things about myself and took the time to consider what opportunities were out there. These days i am able to work from home, and so far no one in my company has bern laid off, but we did have to take pay cuts. And now i am thinking it may be time to start planning my own business. Great post. It really tells you not to panic, and to be resourceful. Thanks for reposting.

  8. I was lucky, the disks in my neck suddenly let go so they put me out to pasture. And in that one moment I allowed myself to step further into what was really important to me, to begin spiritual healing in another way. To heal myself, the one person I had ignored with my inner pain and fear. I now smile each day, realise the importance of a breath and even the simple understanding that I could never be that love and happiness I had always looked for until I had healed me. In that healing I found my place, whatever I did, working or not.
    Great post, it takes great courage to go through times like this and this guidance would have been magic for those times I had been in need and very lost. Thank you for sharing 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

  9. Judy Kim says:

    Your posts are very meaningful, I enjoy reading them. I like your perspective. 💖

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