Crisis Recovery IS Possible!

Thursday, August 9, 2018
Whether it is the unexpected police at your door, the sudden loss of a job, a shooting in the most unlikely of places or hearing about the sudden loss of a very dear friend - we are all subject to crisis in our lives. And whether it is "expected" or "unexpected" the trauma experienced is never what we imagine. Do not try to behave as though nothing has happened? Something has happened? Something big? Something from which you will need to give yourself time to heal.

When you or someone you care about is confronted with a crisis - often the immediate response is "what do I do now?" The most important thing to "do now" is to acknowledge that a crisis exists and to be gentle and accepting that things are now different from what they were just a moment ago.

Shock, anger and fear are very human responses to crisis. Do not try not to have the feelings that make you human. Accept that you are grieving. Regardless of whether others say you should not or that you should be "over it".

Do not expect to come to the crisis with skills you have not used before - although it is possible that as you move through the crisis- you may learn new skills that you will choose to keep.

Do not be surprised if you experience a resurgence of the feelings you first had on the anniversary of the crisis.

WHEN YOU ARE IN CRISIS:
  • Express your fear, anger, the full range of emotions by writing in your journal, talking to supportive friends, or seeking counseling if you find your daily activities significantly changing for more than two weeks.
  • Expect the unexpected as you sort through your feelings.
  • Try to maintain a daily routine. Even if not to the extent usual. For example, if you routinely do the grocery shopping on Thursday - at least try to pick up something from the store - even if not the full shopping regimen.
  • Try not to be completely alone in your living space for extended periods of time - although you may choose to be alone with your thoughts.
  • Do not try to care for yourself by excessive care taking of others.
  • Seek professional evaluation if you find that you are unable to resume many of your daily living activities after two or more weeks. Many people struggle for months and months thinking if they wait long enough..."it will pass".
  • Be mindful that, while in some ways this two weeks time frame is a somewhat arbitrary one, if your ability to attend to your basic daily living needs is harmful to you in one week – don’t wait. Seek a professional evaluation. Learn from someone skilled in this area as to whether you are in a place in needing assistance - or simply needing time. You owe it to yourself.

WHEN A CHILD IS IN CRISIS:
  • Assure the child that the crisis is not related to his/her behavior.
  • Assure the child, to the extent you can, of his/her safety. Do not promise more than you can reasonably deliver.
  • Provide as much structure for the child as possible.
  • Children often exhibit increased physical symptoms in responding to crisis.
  • Acknowledge that the child may be confused, angry and frightened - help the child to channel these feelings in constructive ways.
  • Do not help the child to hide feelings.

Children under the age of six often have difficulty with understanding the finality of death - so if death is the crisis - expect that the child will continue to ask for the deceased. Consider professional evaluation if you become concerned about the child’s behavior.

FOR CO-WORKERS/COLLEAGUES IN CRISIS:
  • Expect the mood changes. However, be clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace. This is not to say that mood changes are to be orchestrated or can be - it is to say that if the changes are such that they are not appropriate or harmful in the work place, perhaps that individual needs to be given additional, non-punitive, and time away from the office.
  • Offer a listening ear to the extent you can tolerate. Remember that a listening ear is not a fixing ear.
  • Consider job-sharing options for 2-4 weeks.
  • Consider flex time options for at least 3 months.
  • Either postpone major decision-making responsibilities or allow the co-worker additional time to consider options before making a decision.
  • Offer breaks during the day
  • Anticipate that, depending on the crisis, your colleague may experience a heightened startle response, may cry at what appears to be unrelated stimuli and more.
  • If several people on the job are affected by a crisis, consider bringing in a Critical Incident Debriefing professional to work with the staff.

The most important thing to remember about experiencing a crisis is that no matter how painful it seems in the immediate moment… You can survive, you are not alone, and there are people who care.