The Recovering Farmer

Friday, December 16, 2011

When Your Life Changes

Just recently a colleague and I facilitated stress management workshops for people working with flood victims. Part and parcel of that workshop entailed discussion on the stages of crisis. I realize I have talked about this before but I need to talk about it again. Obviously when Mother Nature throws us a curve ball the consequences can and are disastrous. Property is destroyed. Lives are changed, in some cases, forever. After a while people can and do adapt. However, that can take time. What has really been heavy on my mind is when people are faced with circumstances beyond their control. When people are involved in accidents, when health issues become a concern, when lives are changed forever. How does one cope? Where can people turn to? Who can help?

When we do our workshops we talk about the first stage of crisis being when an individual is hit by the storm. The point where they come face to face with the realization that life has changed. Often they have feelings of shock, disbelief, rage and panic. There is a sense of loss. People are in a place where often times they turn to unhealthy ways of coping.

The second stage considers people being in the foggy middle. A period of empty, confused feelings. Life seems chaotic. Some days they feel hopeful the next hopeless. Nothing seems to make sense. When in this stage one needs to find ways to cope. This can be a long and uncomfortable journey. Based on experience, the only way to move on is to find some clarity. To find the missing pieces. To realize that life will go on. To establish new coping mechanisms. And to develop solutions.

The third stage is known as the recovery stage. Being on solid ground. People start to adjust and adapt to changed surroundings. Depending on the individual, people return to a pre-crisis level of functioning. Often times that level of functioning may not be what it used to be. Much depends on the outcome of the crisis. It also depends on a person’s internal and external supports.

Why am I talking about this again? I have talked to a number of people this week who are in different stages of crisis. I marvel at the strength many of them have. I can’t imagine myself in their shoes. That friend whose health issues have turned into a fight against cancer. The accident victim who cannot get back to a normal life. That particular friend who had his hopes set on a job only to find out he didn’t get it. The family member who is struggling with work and looking at making significant changes. The friend who would like to talk about issues in life but finds it difficult to find the right listening ear. The individual who talks about frustrating relational issues. The one who is losing the farm and all he has worked for. Far too often life just does not seem to be fair. Sometimes life just simply sucks.

But we need to move on. Find ways to cope. Find ways to develop solutions. Seek that higher ground. Take the time to reflect. Take the time to move on. One of the people I just mentioned told me that he had spent time in reflecting. Realized mistakes he had made. Understood his own mortality. And was going to move forward in a different way. The idea is to make positive changes. But sometimes that is so difficult. My friend ended an email by saying that he felt he could cope with the help of family, friends and God. Find your supports. They are there. They are ready to help. They are ready to listen. Make it a good one.

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