Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Surviving a Family Crisis

by Alison Griswold Blanchet

A month or so ago, my family packed a few changes of clothes, our insurance docs and passports and a jar of peanut butter into the back of our Honda CRV and drove about an hour and a half inland to ride out Hurricane Matthew.  At the time the storm was a measly Category 1 and we truly believed we’d be back home in a day, after a minor inconvenience of a mandatory evacuation.

The next morning, we woke up in our hotel, logged into the weather channel and watched as one of the strongest hurricanes in history barreled towards our front yard.  A few hours later we saw the first picture of our house with only half a roof remaining and realized that we might not be returning home that evening after all.

Our families’ routines, traditions and habits have been disrupted, but in the midst of this we’ve found comfort in our faith and community through:

    • Attending Mass.  When we are faced with an overwhelming task list, Mass can seem like one more thing to do.  When our family was displaced and worrying about what the future held and facing a daunting clean up, pausing to attend Mass and give all our worries to the Lord has given us a much-needed respite.  Far from adding to our “to do” list, it’s given us the grace to deal with each challenge that comes our way.
    • Doing normal things.  When we experience trauma, our brains go into “fight or flight” mode, and we hone in on the necessary tasks with laser focus.  When we are fighting to keep our family sheltered and fed, we can forget to do things like eat and sleep.  Pausing to enjoy a family outing, movie or meal together can help our body and mind re-group and allow us to feel more like ourselves.  For our family, this meant meeting friends at a playground or playing a round of mini putt-putt.  All the work and worry wasn’t going anywhere, but an hour spent with our minds someplace else helped us return to our challenges feeling renewed.
    • Ask for and accept help.  There were challenging moments these past two weeks that were significantly helped by our friends and family.  Whether it’s childcare, meals, manpower or material support, it’s important to reach out for help – and then allow ourselves to receive it – when we are overwhelmed.  People want to support each other, but they can’t read your mind!  When someone says, “Is there anything I can do?” It’s perfectly ok to reply with, “Yes. Could you watch the kids for two hours tomorrow morning?”  Think of tasks that don’t require your direct involvement and don’t be afraid to delegate!

Unfortunately, we know that life will have moments of worry.  We are bound to encounter natural disasters, illness, financial stress and loss.  Our faith, family and community can provide support so that when these moments come, we are not alone.

For additional help during a time of crisis:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255