Today is the last day that our local Sears department store will be open in our community. After today it will shut its doors and our mall will have one more vacancy. Our family went to do a bit of shopping with what is left as Sears liquidated all items to 80% off. As we picked through what remained, I couldn’t help but look at the faces of the employees and imagine what they must be thinking as they worked their last day. I can relate and understand their emotions and the experience brought back raw emotions of what our own family went through.
Our family was hit hard by job loss a few years ago. My husband worked for our municipal government with Hastings County for eighteen years. He began his career there in his early 20’s on IT helpdesk and worked his way up to being a supervisor in the IT department. When his department went through restructuring both him and his manager were let go. I remember the day he came home. He hadn’t answered my text messages asking that he pick up a pizza on his way home because I had a busy day and didn’t have time to make dinner. Little did I know that he hadn’t answered because at that time he was being walked down at the end of his workday to a room to be told that his services were no longer needed. He was asked to turn in his keys and his phone. I understand why companies take safety measures to do things this way but it was such a cold send off to someone who had dedicated eighteen years to their company. I remember it was March 31st and all I could think was that tomorrow would be April fools day. This had to be a joke.
But it wasn’t and for our family this had a huge impact on us. I had always worked in some capacity but for the most part stayed at home to raise our children. My income would not sustain us through this and after getting over the shock, the fear set in. Where would we go from here? How would we take care of our family? Would we be able to stay in the community where we have put roots down or would we have to move to a larger city to find work? Having no immediate answers to these questions was scary and during the first few weeks that we dealt with my husband’s job loss we went through many emotions. After getting over the initial shock, the fear set in and then after a few days of fear the anger and hatred for the employer and their final decision that would change our lives forever. They knew our family and our children and that this would have a devastating impact on us, but none of that mattered. Going through these emotions was hard and being an avid fan of Star Wars the words of Yoda kept going through my head. FEAR leads to ANGER, ANGER leads to HATE, HATE leads to SUFFERING.
I knew we had to let go of our anger and look for ways that our family could learn from this experience, grow and bounce back to be stronger than we were before. I searched through our family photos and had one that spoke to me enlarged and mounted it in our living room with the plaque “Our family is a circle of strength and love”. We were going to get through this together.
And so began our search to find new careers. We didn’t want to uproot our children who were both transitioning to new schools in September and after speaking with our financial planner and discussing some ideas, we decided that a move into the financial industry would be the best fit. We were given the opportunity to start work at a financial office and balanced work with studying for new careers in the financial industry. It was a struggle and took a lot of effort but finances was also a passion for both of us. My husband had at one time considered a career as a financial advisor and came full circle to realizing this 18 years later. I had already written an award winning financial book for children and developed a financial kit for kids so it was a natural transition for me into this industry.
We eventually decided to start our own company and now work as partners in Forward Finances. We chose the tag line “Move ahead with us!” because this has been a journey of pushing forward no matter what life is throwing your way. In many ways now we look back at my husband’s job loss as one of the best things that could have happened to our family. It took years to be able to realize this and now we are in the position to help our clients manage their finances and prepare for life’s challenges which is the best part of our new careers.
So for the people at Sears and others finding out that they no longer have a job, we empathize with you. Locally we have seen people in our community experience the loss of a job from those companies that come to mind such as Nortel, Exxon Mobil, Metroland Media and the impending closure of the Proctor & Gamble plant in Brockville, ON. It is devastating and hard and we understand the raw emotions that you will go through. I hope that in some way you can find some inspiration from our story and have the opportunity to reinvent yourself and one day look back at that job loss as a starting point to finding a career that you love.
Jeanette Ramnarine resides in Belleville, ON where she and her husband are co-owners of Forward Finances. Her work and financial advice for families has appeared in various forms of media including newspaper, magazine, blogs and television. She is a licensed insurance broker and investment advisor, bringing a unique and creative approach to her clients with her knowledge and expertise in estate planning and wealth preservation.