How You Can Help if Someone You Love Is in Mid-Life and Unemployed

Recognize that it’s uncomfortable for most of us to sit with someone else’s sadness and anger. Ask yourself if your efforts to cheer him up are geared toward helping your friend or relative, or aimed at making your own worry and fear go away. A man who has suffered such a loss of personal identity and self-esteem needs to feel heard, accepted in his pain, and loved before he’ll be able to move on.

Allow room for all of the stages of grieving. This man has not only lost his sense of his present, he has also lost his idea of his future as he imagined it would unfold. This is no small thing.

If symptoms of depression develop or worsen, encourage him to see a psychiatrist and to consider an antidepressant medication (at least temporarily) to help manage his feelings so that he can begin to function again.

Help him find a job coach or career counselor. It’s been a long time since he’s been on the job hunt. Things have probably changed a great deal. He may need help with everything from writing an effective resume, to knowing where to look for new work, to rehearsing for an interview. There are lots of books on the subject. And there are professionals who specialize in helping people get their careers back on track.

Every day, help him do something (almost anything) that gets him re-engaged with life. Go with him for a walk or a run. Get him a haircut. Put together an interview outfit. Pick up some books on career moves and talk about them. Encourage him to start taking some action to retool or improve skills. People who stay engaged with their problem and who begin to take even small steps to improve the situation are the people who bounce back.


Kubler-Ross, E. (1997). On death and dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families, Reprint Edition. New York: Simon & Shuster.