How to Help Someone Who Lost Their Job

One way to help new parents who are unemployed is to offer to babysit, with Covid-19 precautions in place, such as wearing a mask or staying outside for the afternoon. No one can possibly perform well with a crying baby tugging at their sleeve. Take the burden off your friend’s shoulders for a few hours if you can.

Beyond the stress of finances and the slog of finding new work, losing a job is simply distressing. “Our work and our jobs are really tied in with our feelings of self worth, competence, our feelings of being valued,” Mr. Brammer said. “There’s a lot of shame oftentimes with being let go from a job because you wonder, ‘Could I have done better? Was I not good enough?’”

Luckily there are lots of ways to show that you still value your friend, even when things are hard. Flowers are an obvious choice (“It’s tried and true,” Ms. Miller said), and my colleagues at Wirecutter have tested for the best mail service, if you go that route. A chocolate box can never go wrong, either (I love the Beverly Hills-based chocolatier andSons for its chocolate care packages).

Even if your newly unemployed friend isn’t concerned about their livelihood while unemployed, consider what little luxuries they may have had to sacrifice.

“Sometimes people get laid off and they’re in an OK place with savings or a spouse’s income, and then it’s a question of what would they appreciate but not spend money on,” Ms. Green said. When I was between jobs, the first subscription I canceled was my gym membership; I would have loved a ClassPass gift card to take a few yoga classes (now available virtually) while I was at my most stressed. Or, perhaps your friend has decided Netflix or Spotify Premium is a luxury too expensive to maintain; you can pay for a few months of those, too.

And, of course, food has served as the great gift of crises since time immemorial.

“Right now procuring food and feeding yourself can be hard,” Ms. Miller said. “Sending that can make their life easier for the next few days. A Seamless gift card” if you’re far away, “or if you’re local, maybe a lasagna to leave out on their front porch.” Mr. Brammer added that whatever gift you choose to send your friend should make them feel better rather than pitiable.

“You don’t want to make your friend spiral,” he said. “So all those gifts should be accompanied with words or affirmation of some kind about their worth, to let them know that this period doesn’t define them.”