One of the big things I noticed right away is that a lot of people treat you differently when they find out you’re losing your job. I was surprised at who reached out and who didn’t. Some people avoided me or unintentionally (?) said really hurtful and insensitive things. Some people who I have a lot of history with were eerily silent. That was crushing and confusing.
The people who reached out to me kind of surprised me, honestly. Most of them were people who I didn’t necessarily feel very close to. They gave me kind and honest words, hugs, texts, emails, cups of coffee, cards… I saw a new and beautiful side to these people – an angle that I hadn’t noticed before.
This piece of pain has caused me to go back to coworkers who lost their jobs before me and apologize for my silence. I wish I’d been one of the people who went to them with hugs, kind words, cards… but, it was so easy to allow busyness, fear, uncertainty to silence me.
I think there’s a gift in this pain. I hear people differently these days. I listen with a different understanding. I speak with a different understanding. Even though I’ve disliked the question, “What do you do for a living?” for a long time, I *really* dislike it now. That question leaves me in stunned silence – how do I answer that now? Instead of that question, I’m trying to ask a more open question, “How do you spend your days?” I also know more what it’s like to feel alone, angry, afraid, trusting God when I can’t see what’s ahead, confused, and the confidence-crushing reality of losing a job.
It’s awkward and messy business walking with people in pain. Grieving people can be prickly and hard to be around, so I also understand why some people “gave me space”. I’m learning more about the importance of extending grace and love to prickly, hurting people. I’m more willing to risk some awkwardness on my part – yes, I might accidentally say or do the wrong thing, but I want to show up for others. I’m grateful for that lesson in compassion.
In your times of grief, what has been the best thing another person did for you?