In the midst of grief, any given clichés, advice, self help books or other bits of advice, may just be the last thing you want to hear. Platitudes and attitudes that could not possible grasp the depth of your loss. Believing no-one would ever begin to understand how devastating it feels, you are inconsolable.
You have lost your job. Your income. The future is uncertain. Your grief is real. Some may feel it as acutely as death, divorce, any other form of trauma we experience in these crazy but wonderful lives of ours.
I remember the first time I was made redundant. Total failure were the words that sprang to mind. The more the company director tried to explain it was a financial, corporate decision, the more I felt I was being told I was worthless. Not worth fighting for, expendable. It was gutting – I was broken. All the doubts and recriminations dogged my every day. Limping from the office, I was too afraid to tell anyone – what would they think of me?
I was twenty-two and it was a business decision, but I could not see past my shame. We do have a way of beating ourselves up for the smallest of nothings, but still I felt tainted somehow. Young and energetic, another one soon came along.
Covid has wiped the jobs of millions from their CV’s. Unprecedented, early shock had us at furlough. At least we were ok, we thought, but in my line of business, tourism and hospitality, the reality of not going back to work became a reality. I remain optimistic though, there will always be a desire to travel and celebrate, I just have to think of other ways of going about the next few months to earn an income, re-adjust, prepare and will be ready when those itchy feet want to travel again.
Having said that, being made redundant at any age is traumatic. Being made redundant or losing your income in The Silver Street time of your life, that’s just so much more difficult. We know all the fluff of no-one being ageist and hang onto that belief, but we also know that when we are up against thousands of others desperate to work, it’s going to be a little harder for us. Defeatist though, never. Getting by is operation central now. Just getting by, like the proverbial swan, gliding on top of the water, but paddling like the devil underneath – and that is the planning for great things.
Just remember, you are not alone right now. You know that, you read the papers, you are part of a pandemic, of a greater force and you are simply thrown from the economic fallout that is happening right now. You are not alone. It is devastating when you don’t know where the next salary check, dividend or any form of financial aid is coming from. It is super scary, especially when you have expenses, accounts, financial agreements that have to be honoured, but how?
Never one for giving advice, I am simply going to jot down a few pointers that are helping me through this at the moment. Some you may relate to, some you may think … the woman has lost it and some may just be that kind of drivel you don’t want to hear. Be positive, seriously? Now? The woman is deluded. But actually, she’s not. Take it from someone who has worked in more jobs than a packet of liquorice all sorts – always adapting, always falling … and always getting up again. This is my personal advice to myself.
- It will pass. Forever going back to compare this time to what others have endured in history. I am not close to starvation, isolated and far from my family. Others are so much worse off than me, I see them driven by hunger and fear and I need to do the best I can, for I still have plenty by comparison.
- The little bit of money put away. I need to dip into my rainy day funds, but am staying away from my capital. To do this, I need to find temporary work until I can get back on an even keel.
- Been working on my CV, which let’s face it, at our age, reads like an encyclopaedia – how to reduce this to bulletin type, one page only, was surely a theory devised by an ancestor of The Marquis de Sade. Nevertheless a fun read. You may need to up the CV for the first time in a long time, no need to pay someone else to do it, anyone younger has it down pat, believe me, my children find this part of my life very entertaining.
- If money pinches, take anything you can, for now. I am not averse to getting down and dirty if it means my bills are paid. You never know, what you may think the most menial of labour, may just be the most rewarding.
- Clear your head. Clear your head of past accolades and any reference to what you were. You will be. In the middle is, it will suffice until I will be awesome, even better than before.
- Be humble. Everyone wants what ever is available out there. Imagining you are a Ferrari and the job requires a white van is not going to play in your favour. White vans can do so much more anyway.
- Be even more humble. If it means calling every contact you know, pulling in the network threads, reminding relatives in the closet that blood matters, do whatever you can to clock the hours and get the pay. Well, not everything …
- If your first mental response to lockdown was like mine, I was wondering about growing potatoes etc, and did just that. Planted lettuce (which got aphids) and all sorts and made casseroles, enough of which I froze to feed an army or two in the future. Then I took a repatriation flight back to London and the mountains of packeted food was given to others. With all the restaurants in lockdown, I saved a lot of money, and that is going to stay that way until things ease up. I don’t need to eat out and buy clothes if money is tight.
- I think that’s it for the surface part, now to the paddling beneath the water part.
- Planning a whole lot of new ways and avenues that will enrich (hopefully in more ways than one) my life.
- This I can do while I am working, part time or full time when I can, and do some more courses (are there any left I haven’t done) or get a new website up for something else I have always wanted to do. I love cooking, what are the possibilities there … and so on. Never let it be said that invention is not close to dealing with a disaster. Being unafraid and driven are the buzzwords required here. Post these words around the house.
- And my advice to myself is done. I have to work, I want to work, I can’t be fussy and it will all come right again – then I will have a multitude of great things to make my day even more curious.
Once I got my headspace right, just the same as all the other times when grief was all consuming and that black cloak tightly wrapped, I am ready to listen and learn from others. There are many groups on Face Book, i.e. Over 50’s job seekers, that share real stories, advice and links for potential jobs. There are, yes, she says, books and articles that will give you the sugar in your tea, help you focus, which is a tad difficult at the moment. There are people to talk to, people to follow who have courage enough to feed some into you. And you can then do the same for someone else – speak, write, advise, hold spiritual hands.
And me, I consider myself fortunate. It IS going to be tough, but I am the little mole, digging and clawing my way through the tunnel right now, convinced I will find the light. You hold on, we are in this together.