Coping with crisis becomes example
You have probably said it yourself. “I couldn’t handle it.” You were referring to a tragedy or loss of something or someone you held dear.
Then you wonder. Some friends, family members or associates have handled a crisis in a manner that makes you admire them. How did they move through those bad times with grace and fortitude?
Crises are part of life. Sooner or later, either for ourselves, someone in our family or close friends, we will have to cope with the death of a loved one, divorce, financial loss or dreaded disease.
The study of change has identified certain strategies successful copers have consistently used.
• Those who have lost a loved one have learned to accept the grieving process. It takes time to work through the grief one feels when someone dies. They don’t rush the process. They have learned to seek and accept the support of friends and lean on them until the numbness and ache begin to diminish. Then they learn to take one step at a time, setting new goals and looking to the future.
When they find they can handle the loss better, they know they can start working. And work is often a salvation. Work can encompass helping others, caring for someone less fortunate than you. Note how many celebrities have turned tragedy into a new focus. Some have established foundations for the search of a cure for a disease, some have told their tragedy so others may avoid a similar one.
• Belief in a higher being. Your minister or clergyman can offer comfort and advice. Human contact is always needed in coping with a crisis.
• The right attitude. Optimism and control can make most negative things “temporary” instead of “permanent.” Accept the fact that your life will be different in some ways. If you have become divorced, your circle of friends is probably going to change. If you have lost your job, you may not associate with the same business group. You may need to take a course or join a study group.
If you have been diagnosed with a health problem, rejoice that you may be able to change your lifestyle and follow your physician’s advice. Don’t brood over what you had to give up. Be thankful you have that option.
• Analyzing and doing. Regardless of how much help you have in withstanding tragedy or loss, in the long run you will have to analyze your personal position, commitments and responsibilities. Once you have inventoried your situation, you can begin to plan. Once your plan is made, you can take action.
• If all coping strategies have not helped in getting through the crisis, professional help may be the answer. An objective look and a new direction may be needed. Mental health professionals are active listeners who can sometimes help a person coping with a severe loss learn to reframe their thinking, to set a new course and get on with their life.
Copyright c 1990 Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D.