Column 5 – The Call

Have you or someone close to you ever lost a job? Do you recall the devastating feeling of picturing all the worst things that could happen as a result? Forget about the loss of self-esteem and self-worth, what about the bills, if they can’t be paid, what will happen to the family? Will they have to move, will they lose their home? There are so many negative thoughts and scenarios that we all deal with at a time like this. Short of being able to offer the person a job, we feel very helpless during these situations. In fact, most people feel at such a loss that they do nothing and that is certainly understandable, because how many times or in how many ways can you express how unfair the situation is for that person. This can be one of those times when you just don’t know what to say.
It is during these times that many people just take the plunge and make that awkward call. There are times when I have been one of those people who have made the call – and times when I’ve been the one receiving the call. No matter how awkward, no matter that there seems to be nothing that can be said, that call can be priceless. It is such a relief and is so comforting to hear someone express how they do not know what to say, however they just had to call to express how sorry they are that this has happened.
Another way to reach out, if a phone call is too difficult, is through an email or text message. Receiving a short, private message on Facebook can even lift someone’s’ spirits immensely. An email with a cartoon or quote attached; a card that has been mailed or dropped off in person; perhaps a quick visit for tea, or even a glass of wine – each of these are wonderful supportive actions during a challenging time.
Making time for lunch can also offer a time to discuss life, movies, or just whatever comes to mind at the time. Many times these simple gestures will help to give that other person spirit a lift. When a person loses their job they are thrown into a time of reflection and reinvention and having a family member or friend reach out with a caring gesture can help that transition. I have been so blessed to have experienced all of these approaches in my own life and the care and compassion I felt helped me greatly. And for those people who wonder if a call or visit can help someone dealing with job loss, I know from first hand experience that it certainly does. Don’t be hesitant, just do what you feel comfortable with.
Income and the health and safety it can bring into a home is a determinant of health, certainly the loss of income can have devastating effects on a person’s health. At this time it is also very important to continue to include a person in social interactions, especially those for which there is little to no cost involved. Going for a walk, having someone over for coffee or a meal, using a gift card or a two-for-one deal, these are great ways to include someone in an activity. The important thing is to stay connected. Friendship does not have to end because employment ends, especially if you were close before the job loss, and that includes retirement. Our jobs are not only a source of income, they are a source of socializing and friendship. Yes, lives are busy, yet try to reach out, whether a person is living independently, or with assistance. Both you and your family member or friend will benefit for your efforts.
Patricia Harrington is executive director at Westford Nursing Home in Port Elgin. She believes it is important to share information on everyday concerns as we age and enjoys promoting these important aspects that will help our older population in aging well. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 506-538-1301.

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