I'm pretty sure just about everyone, if not experiencing personal job loss, is connected with someone who has lost a job. It's difficult to know what to say to your fellow Mom at the school bus stop and it's tactless to inquire of an associate why she has stopped going to the gym. All the little social niceties become a minefield for potential embarrassing gaffes. It's a bit like being the first divorced woman in the group - the still married women steer clear of you for fear it's catching.
There are simple acts of kindness that you can do to help out friends and former colleagues if they are experiencing job loss and you remain secure. Feeling guilty and avoiding them isn't going to help. Consider what skills you may have to offer someone in a job search - offer to put them in contact with a friend of a friend and so on down the line. If you have good writing skills, offer assistance with a resume cover letter and in spiffing up the resume. If you have access to office space and can offer the use of same to someone struggling to reorganize their life , make that offer.
What about helping someone to access the internet and bringing them up to speed on all the networking sites that are out there - won't take much of your time. The whole point about helping during this time is to do it in the true spirit of friendship and not out of pity or guilt.
Offer to babysit, invite them over for a simple home-cooked meal and, if you are a gardener, share your harvest. Lessen the charity aspect by being open and saying "I've got more lettuce/beans/beets than we can use and if you are at all hesitant to accept, come on over and help me weed".
People do need a helping hand and there should be no stigma attached to giving or receiving. So your best friend has had to drop her gym membership - form a walking group with her and use the time to brainstorm solutions not bemoan fate. About 22 years ago, newly divorced and broke , I teamed up with another woman in the same situation and we cooked together once a week making meals for the freezer. It not only gave us time together to boost our spirits (we laughed a lot and more than one meat loaf represented the ex husband...all that kneading!) but we researched menus for the week (and there were six kids involved), shopped with an eye to a bargain and, had the mutual push to keep going and not neglect nutrition or spend money on fast food. Word got out and we were asked if we could cook for several other working moms...we did and made a tidy profit, covering the cost of our own groceries. During that period in my life I found a position with a major corporation and was on call with a very nice retainer, to cook for visitors to their remote location guest house. It was a wonderful job and stemmed from both a love of cooking and that shared experience.
It is during difficult times that the "necessity is the mother of invention" kicks in big time. It's amazing just how resourceful women can be when pushed. If you are in the position of having lost your job start by list the skills that you do have - explore the possibility of someone else not only needing those skills but being willing to pay for your services. Years ago a super organized friend supplemented the family income by organizing closets, kitchens and home offices. Her stop gap business spread by word of mouth and ultimately became a company that looked after second homes, checking on them when they were empty, letting service men in, shopping and filling fridge and pantry prior to the owners arrival. She ended up with five employees.
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