Be aware of emotions in making decisions:
After a disaster, your ability to make wise decisions can be affected by the emotional
responses to grief. Yet during these difficult times, important decisions often
need to be made. Be aware of the grief stages and their effect on decision making:
- Shock and denial — It is common for people to avoid making decisions or taking
actions at this point.
- Anger — Making decisions is difficult because all energy is being directed into
anger rather than problem solving.
- Depression and detachment — Because it is hard to make decisions at this stage,
it may be a good idea to ask a family member, friend or professional for help if
important decisions need to be made.
- Dialogue and bargaining — At this point, people become more willing to explore
options after expressing their feelings.
- Acceptance — Decisions are now much easier to make because people have found
new purpose and meaning.
Support family and friends:
Distress and despair can grip a community after a
disaster. Temporary homelessness, damaged personal
items, lost crops and an uncertain future weigh heavily
on survivors. The most common coping tools are listening,
talking and supporting one another.
- Tell family members, neighbors and friends when
they have done a good job.
- Be considerate of family members, neighbors
and friends. Keep in mind that
everyone is upset.
- Be patient with one another. Realize that when we
suffer losses, it is natural to express disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety and depression.
Emotions will roller- coaster and moods can change suddenly. You and your
spouse may react differently.
- Laugh. Even in crisis, it’s all right to laugh. Laughter can help relieve tension.
Help children heal:
- Talk about the event with your children. Studies show that children need to bring
their fears, fantasies and confusions out into the open. Adult evasion and concealment
may shake a child’s trust and increase fears.
- Avoid needless alarm and panic. During crisis, children turn to adults for cues on
how to behave and feel.
- Be patient. Ideally, you should discuss a child’s worries when the child brings
them up, not at a time the parent selects.
- Provide simple explanations appropriate to the child’s age and ability to understand
what has happened.
Develop coping skills:
- Let people give you a hand. It can make a critical difference
between coping and suffering.
- Take care of your physical and emotional needs.
- Eat balanced meals.
- Get enough sleep.
- Talk about your feelings.
- Listen to others.
- Look for positives in the situation.
- Focus on the big picture instead of little details and problems. Donít expect things to
instantly restore themselves.
- Show by words and actions that you care. Even small, kind deeds can mean a lot to others.
Support teens during a crisis:
- Realize that teens often respond to distress by trying to handle it alone or by talking
to other teens.
- Do not discount or underestimate the significance of a teenager’s concerns.
- Offer help early in the first stages of distress, before your teen sinks into deep
despair or depression.
- Do not offer false assurances. Focus on the positive but don’t brush off problems
or distress by saying “don’t worry” or “cheer up.”
- Encourage your teen to talk.
- Show by your words and your actions that you care. Nothing you say to a distressed
teen will help unless it is said in a warm, caring and supportive way.
Full PDF Version (344 K PDF)
See the related program: Extreme Weather Flood & Water.
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