The F-Wave: m12.jpg

Family members may experience the same emotions that you experience while you're unemployed. Earlier, I described the "e-wave" (emotional-wave) stages you're likely to experience while you're out of work:

  • Shock and Denial
  • Fear and Panic
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Temporary Acceptance

The f-wave™ parallels the e-wave in terms of its stages. But, typically, it doesn't follow the same sequence or pace as the e-wave that's affecting you.

If the e- and f-waves™ were in sync, unemployment would be a bit easier for everyone. You could work through the grieving and healing process together, and offer each other mutual support every step of the way. But that's generally not how it works. What elicits your shock and disbelief may trigger your spouse's anger, and what brings you closer to temporary acceptance may catapult your kids into depression or fear. Your e-wave cycle may just be beginning again, perhaps because of a job rejection you received, while your family members are finally coming to grips with your unemployment and reaching the end of their f-wave cycles.

If your goal is to support your loved ones while you're unemployed, then you have to keep abreast of which f-wave stages they're experiencing at all times.

  • Make a special effort to ask how everyone's feeling and what you can do to help, no matter what you're going through.
  • Don't just assume that your family members' concerns and emotions will be in synch yours.

Similarly, keep in mind the special ways in which unemployment affects your children.

  • Younger kids will probably not understand enough about your job loss to react to it in the same way as adult members of your household. But that doesn't mean they'll be unscathed by your unemployment or that the f-wave doesn't affect them.
  • Kids will feel the anxiety and tension that pervades your home, and they'll hear adults whispering in worried tones. That may trigger surprisingly adult emotional reactions such as panic and "catastrophizing."
  • As a result, your kids will need your continuous love, reassurance, and guidance as much as the adults in your household who are fully "in the know."
  • Take the time to offer an age-appropriate explanation of your job loss. Emphasize the fact that any consequences of your unemployment will be short-lived and that, together, the family can handle any problems that arise.

©Copyright 2008 Professionals In Transition Support Group, Inc.

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