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”?