Because of the unusually intense tornado season throughout the US this spring, I decided to begin today posting Family Fridays.
So many families, particularly in the South, Mid-West, and Northeast, are reeling from the sudden destruction of their worlds and daily lives. The rest of us are left to watch in amazement and, perhaps, feel some guilt at being relieved that it was not us. Of course, whether a tornado or another crisis, we sometimes wonder, “how would we deal with such circumstances?”
In studies of family stress, Froma Walsh discusses what people need whenever they experience an unexpected crisis. What contributes to helping them to cope, recover, and be resilient? Two very important factors are social support and resources, such as after the tornadoes–water, food, shelter, and medical aid. When a sudden crisis happens, people and their families find themselves quickly needing immediate help from others.
I often wonder how to make sense of this type of life event myself. Recently, I heard the story of Fred Rogers‘ (TV’s Mister Rogers) answer for making sense of scary things. As a child, Fred’s mother always told him to “look for the helpers”. For some reason, this was very helpful to me. While it does not change the bad thing that has happened, “looking for the helpers” gives me a way to focus on something positive and reassuring in the midst of it all. And, I know by personal experience that whenever life has been especially challenging, it was the help of other people who made it possible for me to cope. Looking for the helpers after these intense storms, we see real life examples of the needed social support being given to people, which helps them through a crisis, and how important that help really is…
May we all have helpers when we need them, and may we be helpers whenever we can…
Walsh F. (2003). Family resilience: Strengths forged through adversity. In Froma Walsh (Ed.), Normal Family Processes (3rd ed., pp. 399-423). New York: Guilford Press.
**I’d love to hear your comments!
- Life Changes – Unexpectedly Sometimes! (jonibeach.com)
- Things I learned from Mister Rogers (ragrobyn.wordpress.com)
- Can We Learn Anything From Tornadoes About Resilience? (psychologytoday.com)
- Keys to Resilience (winnebago.uwex.edu)