Survivors guilt

Dec 22 2008 by Print This Article

A good friend or former co-worker has suddenly found himself or herself out of a job. What do you say? It's almost as difficult as speaking to someone who has experienced a death in the family. Eve Tahmincioglu, on, has an article with some advice from experts.

Some people feel a form of "survivors guilt" when they still have a job but their friends have found themselves suddenly on the unemployment line. At the same time, these people are also very afraid that their own jobs could be cut at any time. This creates a fine line to walk when talking to co-workers and friends.

Psychotherapist Karen Romine has the following advice.

"The main challenge in this situation is that most of us project onto the laid-off person how we'd feel if we were laid off. In most cases, this means we see them as a helpless victim who's in real trouble. The truth is, while it's a setback, it's not nearly as bad as we tend to think."

When dealing with the survivor's guilt, another expert advises you to avoid going "overboard." Try not to extol the virtues of your life and how great things are or then going the other way and laying on thick how bad you think things are.

Simply say "I'm sorry" to the friend who informs you they have lost a job and offer specific support where you can. Try not to offer money and become an ATM to friends who are unemployed, but offering help where you can is fine.

It's not easy to deal with and the emotions of someone unemployed are similar to those who have experience a death. Be cautious, be aware, but try not to be too awkward or self-conscious. Doing so can end up making your friend feel worse.