Wendy's Blog

Real Help & Best Advice for People Hurting Right This Minute

by Wendy Keller, author, speaker, a woman who cares

This article is for people whose lives are in crisis right now, this minute, and who are suffering in the early days of overwhelm, anguish, confusion, shock and wondering “How in the world am I supposed to deal with this?”

What are you supposed to do when your whole life is falling apart? Here are FIVE TIPS I learned when my children died in a car accident in 1991, and then my home burned down in a wildfire in 2007 and my precious only living child had to be checked into rehab in 2009:


One: Know this: It won’t always hurt this bad. I promise you, you will be better able to manage this in time. It’s the fact that your grief, pain and loss is new and unfamiliar that makes it so shocking and overwhelming. No one can tell you how long you’ll suffer, but I do know that you’ll get through this.  Many have gone before you and suffered through something similar.  The choices you will make from here forward will determine how healthily and how fast you “get through” this time. You have good reason to hope for a better future.

Two: You are NOT alone. It may seem like you’re alone. You may be physically alone at 3 AM. But there have been many millions of people throughout history, and a hefty percentage of them have been through extreme pain. Not identical to yours, but similar. They have an inkling what it feels like to be you.

Three: Decide to survive. It seems overwhelmingly painful and scary right now. You know things will never, ever go back to how they were. But believe it or not, someday that will be OK with you. Deciding to survive means accepting that you can’t change this, so you may as well decide to make the best of it.

Four: Accept the hands that are offered. This is your chance to receive. Whether some neighbor wants to bring you a casserole or someone wants to shove $5 in your hands; whether your friends want to take you out to cheer you up or someone you trust offers to help you out in whatever way you need it, this is YOUR turn to learn to say, “Yes, thank you.” Just relax and let the world help you out. During times of extreme crisis, we get to see that we really do live in a wonderful world, full of caring, compassionate people who care about us. Let it in. Say YES. Accept the helping hands people offer you now. Learning to receive is a difficult skill. Let it in.  Your turn to “pay it forward” will also come.

Five: Prepare to give back. Sounds strange to say to someone who is suffering as much as you are now, but realize that someday, you will be called upon to help someone in a similar situation. Really. Funny how that works. What will you say? Spare a few brain cells to think about how you will advise someone in the future. This does two things: it helps you be objective about what you’re experiencing right now and apply your own wisdom to your own life and second, it prepares you for when this or a similar feeling occurs for you or someone else in the future.

These five steps will help staunch the emotional “blood flow” right now and help you get yourself pointed in the right direction for recovery.

My heart goes out to you at this difficult time in your life.


Would you like a copy of Wendy Keller’s FREE ebook

“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis”?

  1. Valerie Rigdon says:

    Number 3 – not ready to accept this, but not going to quit life. You put it very well. ‘make the best of it’ will happen someday. We have to remember this is our only life also. Don’t want to get to the end and have missed it. But it just isn’t easy to be happy right now.

  2. Linda Bradford says:

    My only son was murdered in Dec. 2011. I have my good days and my bad, but I am trying to continue moving forward instead of being caught in the past. It’s a day by day mission. I truly appreciate you sharing your story and giving me insight into my own.

    • Linda,

      Reading your comment gave me shivers! I can’t imagine losing a child to violent crime – that must be horrible, really really horrible. I do believe burying one’s own child is about the worst thing a mother can endure. I wanted to crawl right into my babies’ caskets and just end it right there. Sending you love and hugs.


    • Cherri Huang says:

      I feel the pain of a mother losing her child! You don’t have to forget about the pain but forgive the party at fault and yourself will release anger and help your moving forward easier!

      All my best,

  3. You so hit the nail on the head with this blog…we experienced the loss of our son-in-law and three year old grandson in 2003…and I remember being so taken back by everyone coming out of the woodwork. I remember thinking, “where are all these people coming from…don’t they know we are dealing with a personal tragedy?”…I had never experienced anything like this and was amazed at people’s response. Now looking back, I am so thankful that they were there to support us and our poor daughter. Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog.

  4. So glad to read this. Only question – the opening paragraph stated that there were seven tips but only five were listed. Wondering what the other two tips were.

  5. Regarding #3 – I remember thinking everyday, every moment…
    “I just want normal”. I would tell a dear friend, the same thing.
    “I just want my normal life back.” And he said to me, well here is your chance to redefine what “normal” is.

    If someone could snap their fingers and give me back my “normal” old life I would take it in a heartbeat. However, I can confidently say that I have created the most exquisite and creative “normal” I could imagine. And I’m proud of myself for that. Over time, you realize YOU only have one life. So live with no regrets. If you morn the loss of someone. They would not be happy with you giving up. Celebrate their life, and your life.

  6. zahid durrani says:

    my only son fell to an accident while coming back 2 home from school on 2nd march 2012, what to tell about the grief and pain ,my whole world is upside down,cannot resist before the cruelty,i am in a state of shock tell now, i am 44 and lost the energy at a critical time of my life, very difficult to overcome but have to move my legs and hands in this ocean of problems.

    • Hello Zahid,

      I’m SO terribly sad to hear of your son’s accident! I can relate to what you mean about the loss of energy at a critical time. Please take good care of yourself physically. You can get through this and get back your stride – it takes focus and time.

      Wishing you love, peace and joy,

  7. zahid durrani says:

    thx wendy 4 ur reply, i meant that i was getting old and my son whom i saw as my replacement was getting young, he was 12,very little left to fight with the hardships of life ahead,but hope time cures every injury and with the help of friends like u ,ll try to over come after all there is no other option but to be patiant.

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