Losing employment is rough no matter when it happens, unless of course whatever you are falling back on is better than the employment you had. Losing a job in December however can magnify the grief, depression and sometimes humiliation. In the blog today, I want to tackle this situation and offer some perspective.
Of course not everyone celebrates Christmas, and whether you do or you don’t, you will still likely encounter all kinds of people around you who are more upbeat, happy, optimistic and walking around whistling or singing jolly Christmas songs. You’ll hear the happiness on the radio where some stations are only playing Christmas tunes, you’ll find your regular television shows replaced for Christmas specials, and you’ll have people wishing you a merry Christmas in shopping excursions.
All this merriment at a time when you are feeling vulnerable due to recent unemployment can create such anxiety and heighten feelings of failure to such degrees that people sometimes feel no option but to resort to all kinds of poor coping behaviours. Some will drink to forget, take drugs to mask emotions, closet themselves away from family and friends, cancel any house parties they were giving, and some unfortunately will go so far as to commit or attempt suicide; an extreme and final choice of avoidance. Movies such as A Wonderful Life have tackled this issue too.
It’s normal to feel negative and down after losing employment, and it’s common to just about anyone who experiences job loss. What can make the situation appear magnified of course is that at this time of year, people are encouraged to be merrier, friendlier, more giving and happy than at any other. Amid all this merriment and happiness, you might be dealing with some pretty dark feelings including anger, fear, lack of self-worth, shock, depression, and denial if it’s happened recently.
What troubles many too of course is the expense of Christmas on top of everything else; trying to keep things as normal as any other year, especially in the case where children are concerned. I’ve known some people to return presents purchased for others to try and get money back, go without a Christmas tree, and sell furnishings and household items to make a buck or two. Understandable in some situations as people try hard to cope and normalize their experience.
One way to look at things is to realize that the year is ending, and while the new year might find you unemployed, if the job you had wasn’t your dream job anyhow, perhaps it might be a good thing in the long run to have been fired from a job you hated but wouldn’t have left on your own until forced out. You may not realize or accept this until you start another job, or look back in a few years. You might years from now say, “Remember that Christmas of 2012 when I got sacked during the holidays? I thought the world was ending but you and me…we’re survivor’s. Now look at us”.
While your personal situation has temporarily turned bad, objectively you should remember that businesses go on 12 months a year; meaning there are hires and fires happening all the time. Some industries shut down over the holidays and others gear up, some fields continue to need people year-round as in the Medical profession, Social Services or Education, while for others like Retail, Construction and Campground Operator’s the lay-offs are high.
December and early January might mentally be a good time to take stock. Do an inventory of your skills, your interests and your contacts. Rather than rushing out to just get a job, perhaps a short break would help you take larger steps forward next month. Don’t stop everything of course; but getting your resume up-to-date and lining up references is sound advice at any time of the year. Meet an Employment Advisor, maybe your Doctor too just to ensure you haven’t got anything happening you can’t manage. Make it your goal to end 2013 better than 2012. Think about the luxury of time you now have to do some upgrading, take a course, meet with a Financial Advisor to get your money situation stabilized.
Losing a job that defined you isn’t likely something to celebrate or feel good about. Please do your best to stay connected to those around you rather than pulling away. Share your situation with your friends and family if possible and be open to offers of help, even if for a short while. Allowing others to help you and your family out when you really could use some help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of wisdom on your part. Be grateful and appreciative. Think of it like giving your friends a chance to good for others, namely you.
Losing employment in December is not something I’d wish on anyone, but then again, when would I wish unemployment on anyone at all? Doing an inventory of your skills, strengths, positive qualities, interests, values and beliefs may help remind you just how rich you are.
Remember too that if you know someone else in this situation, why not pick up the phone and see how they are doing? Maybe offer to meet over lunch or on the weekend if they are family and lend a hand or make a gift of some money to help them along. Do for others what you’d imagine you’d like done for you if the situation was reversed. It’s caring and being willing to reach out to someone in need, and that’s a wonderful thing to share with your own family.