Q: About six weeks ago, the company my husband works for went into receivership.
He was given a package and then let go. At first he seemed to be handling it reasonably well. He put together a resume and dropped into a number of places to search for work.
Unfortunately, that only lasted a couple of weeks. This last while he is not doing much of anything. I find him sitting on the couch in front of the TV when I get home from work at night and when I ask him about his day he storms off without much of a word to me.
I am getting worried. We will be fine financially — we can live off of my salary and the package given to my husband was quite generous.
It is not money that is the problem. It is him. He is not the same lovable guy I married 11 years ago. He is not even the same guy that got laid off. I don’t understand who or what he is. All that I know for certain is that I don’t like what is happening and I don’t know what either I or we can do to make it better.
A: I am not sure, but it sounds like your husband has slipped into the kind of depression that goes along with grieving. Grieving is more than just feeling bad about the death of a loved one. Grieving is what we do anytime we go through a significant loss in our lives.
Your husband lost his job, and with that it seems that he lost something to do with his identity, or who he is as a person. Those are huge losses.
He might need a little help dealing with them. You and he can start a road to recovery by checking in with your family doctor. If he is clinically depressed your doctor can either get him on medication to help get him going again or refer him to a psychiatrist for more complete support and/or assistance.
Until such time as you get professional support for your husband, you and he should look at his daily schedule and get him back into some kind of a routine. His body is no different than is yours or mine — it needs movement to keep it going and it needs to move to slow down the shift to personal depression.
That movement starts in the morning. No more sleeping in. He should be up and hanging around the breakfast table the same time you are preparing to go off to work.
When you leave the house, he leaves the house. He can go for a long walk, take the kids to school, exercise the family dog (if you have one), pay some bills or check the morning listings at the employment office.
Somewhere in his daily schedule should be time reserved for a job search. That works best if it is the same time every day. Don’t forget that a job search is more than a check on what is available any particular day. A proper job search includes serious thoughts about where he might enjoy sharing his abilities with others. Sometimes knowing what you want to do is more helpful than the want ads in the classifieds. When he is done all of this, and he has the table set for supper, he can consider turning the TV on and waiting for you and the kids to get back home to share in some love and laughs with each other. The more positive all of you are with each other the less influential are those negative news stories haunting your cable networks. And it is that positive attitude that is going to see you through these discouraging moments.