We conclude our 4 Part series, “Ann and the Flood” with some reflection, and some advice from Ann.
Many people live their whole lives without knowing what it means to survive a natural disaster. Even more can say they have never had to face what it is to lose everything. Ann has lived through both – and this was not the first time life had brought difficulty her way. Starting over was not totally unfamiliar to Ann, but this time it was harder. She was older and the devastation was total. I asked her what she had learned through all of this…what advice she would give others. Here are her answers.
First, Ann said that she learned the importance of accepting help. The totality of her loss left Ann in a position where she had to depend on others. It was difficult to allow total strangers to help her, and difficult to have to depend on her family so much. In the end, however, she said that it was valuable to learn to accept help.
One of the foundational sayings of the Society is this, “To know and be known, to love and be loved, to serve and be served, to celebrate and be celebrated.” There is a give and take to life that works. We were not meant to be independent of each other. Life is to be shared and it strengthens us to be givers and receivers. We all prefer the feeling of being able to give, but to receive – that is where your true colors show. Are you able to let yourself need? Do you have permission to be served as well as to serve? It is the flow of both – the give and the take – that keeps us healthy. It is the way nature works – living things give and receive in a constant cycle of life. Why wouldn’t it be the same for people?
Ann also shared that she had learned the importance of simplicity. Now, she strongly recommends not living like a pack rat, but living more simply. We are weighed down by our stuff! And in a situation like Ann faced, having too much only serves to increase our stress and loss. There is a harmony and goodness in taking only what we need – having only what is necessary to keep us healthy and functioning well. Too much, hinders. Too much, costs. Too much, gluts and suffocates. Let go, exercise your own freedom of choice – release what you do not need. Your nest will seem bigger and your heart will have more room to live the beautiful life.
Finally, remember these very important tips for helping those who are in severe crisis.
Ann went through: Shock, Urgency, Frustration, Feeling Overwhelmed, then Grief and Sadness as she tried to cope with the natural disaster that struck her life. Knowing these stages may help you help someone else in this situation.
She also noted these things:
- In a crisis, use your best judgment and help rather than asking the victim so many questions.
- If you really want to know how the victim is – then be prepared to listen.
- Don’t tell a suffering person about other horror stories you know – this does not help and makes them feel that their story has to compete with someone else’s.
- Grief is an exhausting process that takes time. Respect and understanding bring healing.
“Goodness listens and learns.”
A “Good” Idea :
The key to responding in any crisis is to be aware of where the person is in the process of trying to cope. We, all to often, think from our own perspective rather than watching, listening, and focusing in on where the victim is. Try to really “see/feel ” what the person is experiencing, then meet them there. Don’t be afraid. Stand firm, and your strength will calm and support them. They are overcome with grief, loss, pain and can only move forward at their own pace. You can be the reassuring voice saying, “It is this way now, but it won’t always be this way. You can do this. I believe in you.” Keep compassion in your heart by connecting with them in the moment. They will never forget you for “being there” for them.