We rely on work for everything from keeping our bank accounts robust to providing a sense of identity. While my career in higher education broke down completely following my husband's death, I don't claim to know what it is like to struggle financially to buy groceries or feed children. My more recent stint of unemployment has been due to the difficulties of launching the All-Weather Friend and, as such, has been of my own making. Certainly I've experienced working steadily and diligently over a long period of time with no paycheck—and the worry of it.
My husband, however, took his life after a sudden, unexpected change in a professional position that constituted his life's work. It was not the only factor in his suicide, but it was the deciding and major factor. His work and his love of it defined him as a person and as a physician. The loss of it (more accurately, its replacement with work that held no interest for him) plunged him into a state of overwhelming depression and panic from which he could not recover. So I know as well as anyone how devastating the loss of a job, of a career, can be.
But I also want this page to include how we can help friends through other catastrophes that cause a precipitous plunge in income and lifestyle—think of fires, mudslides and storms that leave people without homes, sometimes barely escaping with their own lives, much less with pets and livestock. The page is a place for people to ask questions, share advice about friendship in this situation and tell their stories. Send your blogs, links for the resource page, suggestions and questions. You can email mary@allweatherfriend or click Connect on the top nav bar and use the form you'll find on that page.
If you need quick tips—
Here are some right and wrong things to say and do for an unemployed friend. Remember that the loss of a job or career breaks down into many immediate losses—of financial security and lifestyles, benefits, structured time, social perks. Being fired (or retired early, redirected, dehired, selected out, whatever) causes nothing short of grief and fear; people react to it with shock and anguish that can quickly escalate into depression. It's hard to be at one's best in the search for a new job when coping with the strong negative emotions of depression and panic.