Back in December, my husband lost his job suddenly. We were completely shocked, confused, angry, scared, anxious and stressed. We had no idea what to do or who to tell. For almost 5 months, we felt this way. Thankfully, we have really amazing family members and friends who were definitely there for us throughout the whole process. If you know someone who has just lost their job--for whatever reason-- here are some tips for caring for your friend during this season.
Don't offer preemptive advice.
If they didn't ask for it, it may not be the right time to offer advice. I know you're well-intentioned but right now probably isn't the best time to be offering suggestions. Your friend is probably still in shock and going through the process of grief with their old job. Plus, right now, they are getting advice from a million other people. So be there. Tell them they're awesome. Give them a hug. But don't tell them how to pay their bills, get their job back or manage their money.
This may be the most important one of all. Listen to how they feel. Are they angry? Sad? Shocked? Scared? Anxious? Depressed? Unsettlingly calm? Listen to what they are saying..and what they aren't as well. Read between the pauses, notice their body language and just be there. Let them know that they always have a friend in you, someone to call whenever they need to talk. Listening can also help you notice signs of depression, which can be common after a huge life change.
DON'T force your friend into feeling something. If they are feeling calm, don't try to make them feel upset. People react to things in different ways. Just be there. Meet them where they are.
Don't assume anything.
Don't assume your friends need money or rent or groceries. Don't pry. Don't ask about their savings. Don't ask if they are going to be okay. Money is already such a touchy situation and losing your job is painful and often embarrassing. Instead, let them know that if they need anything- ANYTHING- they can call you and you'll be there.
Bring a surprise.
When Brandon lost his job, it was right around Christmas and our friend showed up at our door one night, dressed as Santa and a present for us. She had printed out all of our wedding pictures of us and bought us a beautiful frame. Honestly, in that dark season of life, she really brightened up our worlds when the pain was still fresh from Brandon getting fired.
How about making a meal and having your friends over? A free meal and change of scenery can be SUCH a welcomed blessing in the days after losing your job. Why not drop some flowers off to your friends to brighten their day?
DON'T make it seem like you now think they're "poor" and need free stuff. That's belittling. But they do need love and some sunshine so offer a meaningful- not groceries or anything excessive.
Suggest free activities.
While Brandon was unemployed, it was really hard when friends would want to go out but we didn't have the money in the budget to do so. After Brandon lost his job, we went on a spending freeze. We were scared to spend money because we weren't sure how long he would be out of a job. We were also kinda embarrassed about our financial situation. So, we often turned our friends down on hanging out. And it sucked. A LOT. Because the last thing we needed was sitting at home alone and stressing out over money.
Instead, find some free activities in your area and ask them if they want to go. Host a game night at your place. Ask them to go for a hike or a picnic. Have a movie night. There's a ton of free things to do while still hanging out with your friends.
Stay in touch.
Text and call often, just to see how they're doing. Don't just be there for the first week and then lost touch. It meant so much to use that we had friends who checked in on us weekly to see how we were doing and how they could pray for us. They were also the friends that celebrated the hardest with us when Brandon finally got a job again. And those are the friends that we know we want to have in our lives because they bring us up and are there for the tough times, as well as the fun times.
What's the best way a friend has ever cared for you in a tough time?