Handling a Family Crisis May 24, 2016 08:56

Handling a Family Crisis

Your family will face a crisis. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But at some point, a crisis will strike.

How will you handle it?

A crisis can occur in many forms: cancer, a sick child, bankruptcy, adultery, divorce, infertility, bullying, miscarriage, job loss, harmful gossip, financial strain, death of a loved one, car accident, house fire... Need I go on?

It's not a question of whether a crisis will strike; it is only a question of when and what kind of crisis your family will experience.

Ryan and I have experienced several crises during our marriage. We've experienced job loss and financial strain. We've had three miscarriages, and our son, Maverick, almost died at birth and fought for his life in the hospital for a few weeks. Ryan almost died when his femoral artery burst during a hockey game in college, and I had a cancer scare a couple years ago. Just because we've experienced these crises does not make us exempt from another one. So, when the next family crisis strikes, how should we handle it?

1. Keep talking. Unfortunately, many people facing a crisis either stop talking altogether or they start fighting. Tensions run high, and it's difficult to control our responses during a crisis. However, if we want our relationships to remain strong we must be able to discuss our fears and feelings with each other. Instead of clamming up, we need to talk it out. Some crises require decisions to be made, and talking through every option is essential. Other times, we just need to express ourselves or pray and cry together.

2. Mind your mouth. Try to remain as level-headed as possible, and keep control of your tongue as best you can. Easier said than done, I know, but words cannot be taken back. It's crucial in a crisis to be careful what you say so you don't cause additional problems for your family. Biting someone's head off won't solve anything in the long-term. Everyone's emotions are understandably raw during a crisis, so be very careful what you say. Don't stop talking, but choose your words intentionally. It's fine to express yourself and share your fears and feelings. It's never helpful to attack others, call people names, or bring up past wrongs. 

3. Keep listening. Our loved ones are experiencing the same crisis, but they are feeling different things. We need to talk about our own feelings, but we also need to listen to our loved ones. They need to be heard, and they need a safe environment to express themselves and be understood. Try hard to listen well and be attentive. Active listening during a crisis helps avoid additional issues and problems, and it can help us understand what everyone in the crisis is experiencing. Try not to judge each other's responses and feelings; everyone is different, and that is okay.

4. Pull together. This one seems obvious, but many people withdraw from loved ones during a crisis. Instead, pull together. Lean on each other, and become a team to overcome the crisis. It is helpful to know that your other family members and loved ones are there for you, and you can be there for them. A crisis may actually help your family to grow closer than ever before. I would never purposely choose to have our son, Maverick, almost die, but that experience forged a bond between Ryan and me that became stronger than I could have ever imagined.

Every family will face a crisis at some point. Our responses determine how our relationships move forward after the crisis. Choose your responses well so that your family can come through the crisis stronger than ever.

 


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