Redundancy and the Family

Changes in life like redundancy affect us all deeply. They change us and they change our relationships. Redundancy is like bereavement and can leave you with the same gut-wrenching sense of loss, the furious “why me?”. Everyone says it’s not personal, but of course it feels that way to the one who has lost their job.
But that sense of loss isn’t just felt by us, it is felt by those close to us as well. Their lives have been changed and probably in ways they would never have chosen for themselves.
Sometimes in mass redundancies you can turn that anger outwards and on to the employer or the perceived cause of the problems for example the Bankers. Then the group binds together against the world.
If a whole community is facing difficulty, there is likely to be lots of support from within that community – think of the pit villages in the North East of England between the thirties and the seventies. Under siege you pull together. But most of us live in communities without that kind of tradition.
Partners and family make their own lives but now change is being forced on them and, of course, they will resist it and be shocked by it.  
For partners at home who don't work this can be particularly difficult. Anyone who has spent a long period at home feels quite daunted by the prospect of going out to work again. And they may be worried that life probably never will be the same again! For partners who have not seen themselves as the main bread winner, the prospect of the change can be awe inspiring
So your partner is in pain too and they have to deal with a whole mix of conflicting and confusing feelings. This may include feelings of resentment towards one being made redundant. It feels as if they have brought this down on the whole family even though they have not chosen to do so! So guilt felt all round then.
In these circumstances most counsellors and coaches will tell you to share your concerns with each other. But this can be very hard to do.
Sitting down opposite each other over the kitchen table can end up being very confrontational. Sometimes, it is better to start talking when you are facing the same way and maybe doing something else. How about going for a walk together or just for a drive. What about when you are sitting together on the sofa watching TV, but not when someone’s favourite programme is on!
It helps if you can both admit you feel rotten and miserable about what has happened – one has lost a job and but several may be in danger of losing a life style.
Share the misery – you are in it together.
Try talking about it and really seeing it from each other’s perspective. Don’t pretend it isn’t grim for you both. Share it and then start to work together to manage it. No one in the family is responsible for this and no one should feel guilty.
Sometimes when the feelings just overwhelm you, it helps to get it all down in a letter. When you have finished, put what you have written to one side. Decide later, when you feel calm, whether to send or destroy it.
If the anger and the depression continue, talk to your doctor or find a counsellor because these are signs you need some outside help.
Above all acknowledge the change for all of you and all are suffering loss. It is not about whose loss is greater. If you can, start to work for and not against each other! You can be a team again, I’m sure!


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