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Hi. My husband died 16 months ago and I was fired from my job 5 months after he died because I was disorganized and lacked follow-through. (Go figure, the love of my life was gone after 27 years...disorganization was the least of my many concerns.) At first, it felt like a gift. I finally had time to myself to grieve and time to help my young children regain their footing as well. It's almost a year later and when I do get an opportunity to interview, the question comes up about my last job or what I have done for the past year. I can't tell them that I have just been trying to breathe on a daily basis. And I don't want to get into my husband's death as an excuse, because it changes my confidence. It also lets my prospective employer know that I have issues. Any suggestions?

I have been reading your posts for several months and finally got the courage to sign up. The things you all have shared are an inspiration. You really are amazing and wonderful.

Kath

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Hi Kath. I am so sorry for your loss, for your reasons for being here. You already know what the people are like here, it is a very good place. I understand what you are saying about living moment to moment and your concerns about how anyone could understand this if they have not experienced this level of grief. Your husband´s death is not an excuse for the year you have lost, it is the reason you needed that time. If it changes your confidence, it shows that you are human, loving, compassionate. Who doesn´t have issues; and is someone´s grief a valid reason for not hiring them, a reason for letting them go. You needed that year to BEGIN to put yourself together, you will probably need more time. But you have reached that point where you feel you can go out and begin again. This shows progress, you will heal, there is hope. Would you really want to end up working for the same type of employer that you had at your last job? Be honest in the interview. If the potential employer does not understand, or is unwilling to give you a chance because of your grief, I don´t think that you should be working there anyway. Take it slow, the right job will come along. Take care of yourself first and everything else will fall in place.

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Kath, dear, I want to add my voice in extending our deepest sympathy to you for the death of your husband.

I also want to thank you for asking this important question, as I don't think it's ever been raised here before.

I must say that I agree with Fred: Be honest in the interview. It seems to me that what matters to any future employer is not so much the applicant's past but rather, the person's present attitude and ability to do the work for which he or she is being hired.

I found some articles online about this that I hope will be helpful to you:

Gaps in Employment? Explain Clearly; Tell the Truth

Getting Past the Sting and Stigma of Being Fired

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Kath,

I'm also glad that you found your way here, we welcome you to this site, we're here to support each other.

I lost my job a few months after my husband died and I also encountered those who asked why I wasn't working. I remember one interviewer though that told me she'd lost her husband (I don't even remember how it came up) and here she was a powerful woman in a prestigious job, but she told me it was the hardest thing she'd ever dealt with.

People may not understand who have not been through it, but honesty is the best policy, and it's best to turn it into a positive note by letting them know you are ready to work and you look forward to entering a positive work environment and bring with you your abilities and experience. There are a lot of books out on resumes and job interviews that can help you prepare for nearly any question there is. Good luck with your job search, we will keep you in our prayers!

KayC

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Kath,

Welcome to the site. Please accept my sympathy for your loss, and know that here, you always have friends who will listen and support you.

I agree with Kay that you should be honest about your time out of the workplace and you can present it in a positive light. Some of the things you might emphasize:

-- You WERE productive during the past 16 months, even though you weren't sitting behind a desk. You gave your children the extra support they needed, you've used the time to regroup and now you're ready to refocus on work.

-- You can point out that dealing with the overwhelming flood of arrangements, legal details, paperwork, etc. that follow the death of a spouse is no small accomplishment. It requires strong project management skills that would be valuable on the job, such as organizing, prioritizing, and a take-charge approach. The fact that you've carried out these tasks successfully while adjusting to a major life change demonstrates strong ability to perform under pressure - something employers always value.

I don't know what types of interviews you may be called for, but these days many interviewers don't just ask what you did at previous jobs; they also want you to describe how you've handled challenges in the past. For example, the interviewer might say, "Tell me about how you handle crises," or "What do you typically do when confronted by an unfamiliar situation that you need to handle immediately?" You may be able to use some of the things you've experienced since losing your husband as examples of your strengths and ability to adapt.

Best of luck with your job search!

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Thank you, everyone!

I had always thought I had to present myself in the way I was before Bob's death. It never occurred to me to present the skills I've learned since then. I know I am not the same person. Every aspect of myself has changed, from the way I define who I am to what I know I am capable of doing. And Fred, you are right...I don't want to work for the same kind of boss I had before. My fears sometimes get the best of me; especially when the whole weight of my family's security lies on me. I appreciate the advice and the links. Thanks again.

Kath

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