My Father Lost His Job

I just got word today that my father got laid off after 30-something years at his company. My parents are taking it pretty well and are philosophical about it — I actually have no doubt that they will be fine and they have told me as much (plus, they have savings and he’s getting a year’s severance) — but I’m rather stressed out on their behalf, I guess.

What happens now? Who will hire my dad if they think he’s close to retirement? Will they have to pay out-of-pocket for healthcare? Why do I read Gawker’s Unemployment Stories column? I support myself (i.e., am not a financial burden on them) and live across the country, and I feel helpless. These are the people that have helped me through so much, paid for my college, are generous to a fault with all they’ve ever had, etc. How can I help in the meantime? What can I do? Also, my parents would never, in a million years, accept money from me if I offered it. — I.A.P.

There’s a lot of things I don’t know about your parents: How old they are (how close they are to retirement and qualifying for Medicare); what their savings and retirements look like; whether they have outstanding debt payments like a mortgage. But I do know that when people experience some kind of hardship, they do whatever they have to do to make it work, and they’ll seek help when they need it.

You say you have no doubt that they will be fine. Your parents tell you that they will be fine. Trust your instincts. Trust them. From what I gather — the year’s severance, the fact that they do have savings — you shouldn’t be stressing over this, and they’d probably wouldn’t want you to stress over it either.

What happens now: Your parents are going to figure out a game plan.

Who will hire your dad if he’s close to retirement: I’m not sure what your dad does, but he was clearly valued enough at his last job to be kept there for more than 30 years. He’ll figure something out and if nothing turns out, he’ll figure out how to make an early retirement work.

Will he have to pay out-of-pocket for health care: He may have health benefits in his severance, or a COBRA option to remain on the employer plan. And if he’s close to 65, he’ll qualify for Medicare soon.

Why do you read Gawker’s Unemployment Stories: It’s a good series.

How you can help in the meantime: Don’t stress out, let your parents figure it out, offer help if they ask of it, and if they’re the kind of people who’d rather go homeless before asking for help, stop that from happening before it happens.

What you can do: Call them regularly, if only to tell them that you love them. Visit them if you can. Show them how their generosity paid off by taking care of yourself and living well.

Photo: Kanu101

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