Seeing your home and all of its memories, destroyed in a catastrophe is a striking blow that hits you deep within your soul. Some never recover from the trauma while others emerge stronger from the experience. Until disaster strikes, you may not know how you will respond. And when it does strike, staying positive may seem impossible – even unfair. However, as angry or as sad as you may be, remaining angry and sad is counterproductive. As with most other things, attitudes often become self-fulfilling prophesies. Try to stay positive when disaster strikes and the aftermath will be that much easier to deal with.
Steps for Staying Positive:
• Count your blessings. Your house may be a pile of sticks, but if you and your family are alive and well, you have much to be thankful for.
• Realize that you are not alone. When a disaster strikes a community, the entire community is affected. While your suffering may be great, others are also suffering. Literally, your neighbors are feeling your pain. Many disaster victims have found great solace in comforting one another.
• Realize that help is available. As devastating as it may be, it’s doubtful that you’ll be completely on your own. Emergency relief from local, state, and federal agencies as well as non-profit organizations will arrive in the near term while long term relief including disaster assistance, grants, loans, housing, and other disaster aid programs will follow. Make sure to go to Disaster Recovery Centers set up by disaster responders and agencies and learn about the aid that is available to you. As you become better educated about what the future holds and the help that is available, you’ll become less uncertain this makes it easier to maintain a positive attitude.
• Take action. While it may be tempting to play the role of a victim and continue to grieve you losses, taking action can have a healing affect. It propels you forward and demonstrates that you do have some control over your situation. Empower yourself by volunteering to help others in worse shape than you are in, clearing debris as soon as it is safe to do so, starting the insurance claims process, filing for aid or loans, and so on. If you see a need, do what you can to fill it. For example, instead of worrying about your kids missing school for months at a time, organize study groups for the neighborhood children to keep them focused and in a routine.
All of the above steps can help you to move from a state of shock and grief into a state of peace and action. But what if you are incapacitated or have lost family members as a result of the disaster? Staying positive in these situations is far more difficult when you feel as though you don’t have any blessings to count or you are too injured to do anything but lie in your hospital bed. Below are a few tips that may help:
• Allow yourself to grieve. If you’ve lost loved ones, grieving is a natural process that shouldn’t be ignored even if you have insurance papers to file and nowhere to call home. You may have to move quickly and feel as though you don’t have time to fully grieve. When this happens, promise yourself that you will honor your lost loved ones soon. Give yourself permission to tend to your immediate emergency needs now so that you can grieve properly once you are in a safe place.
• Seek and accept help. Counseling, medical care, and assistance programs are available after disasters – and people from all over will want to help. Many disaster victims are hesitant to accept help or even resistant to it, but you do need support. By allowing your neighbors, family members, friends, or volunteers help you, your eventual recovery will be that much easier.
• Remind yourself that being positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy. In fact, you can be incredibly sad, yet positive. Tomorrow is another day. You can survive.
Disasters, as terrible as they are, often bring people and communities together. Many disaster victims find that they are stronger than they realized and that despite the ill luck that has fallen their way, they are equipped to survive. You too are equipped to survive a disaster and one of the most effective tools you have is your ability to stay positive.