Seeing your home and all its memories destroyed in a catastrophe is a heavy blow that strikes you deeply in your soul. Some never recover from the trauma while others come out stronger from the experience. Until disaster strikes, you may not know how you will respond. And when that happens, staying positive can seem impossible — unfair even. However, no matter how angry or sad you may be, staying angry and sad is counterproductive. As with most other things, situations often become self-fulfilling prophecies. Try to stay positive when disaster strikes and the consequences will be much easier to deal with.
Steps to stay positive:
• Count what has been bestowed upon you. Your house may be a pile of sticks, but if you and your family are alive and well, you have a lot to be thankful for.
• Know that you are not alone. When a disaster strikes a community, the entire community is affected. While your suffering may be great, so are others. Literally, your neighbors feel your pain. Many disaster victims have found solace in consoling each other.
• Realize that help is available. As devastating as it may be, it’s doubtful you’ll ever be completely alone. Emergency relief from local, state, and federal agencies as well as nonprofits will arrive in the near term while long-term relief will come, including disaster assistance, grants, loans, housing, and other disaster assistance programs. Be sure to go to disaster recovery centers set up by disaster responders and agencies and find out what help is available to you. As you become more educated about what the future holds and the help available, you will become less certain which makes it easier to maintain a positive attitude.
• Take action. While it may be tempting to play the victim and continue to grieve the losses, taking action can have a healing effect. It pushes you forward and shows that you have some control over your situation. Empower yourself by volunteering to help others who are in a worse situation than you are, removing debris as soon as it is safe to do so, starting the insurance claims process, offering assistance or loans, etc. 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 neighborhood kids to keep them focused and in a routine.
All of the above steps can help you move from a state of shock and grief to a state of peace and action. But what if you are incapacitated or lose a loved one as a result of the disaster? Staying positive in these situations is even more difficult when you feel as though you have no grace to reckon with or are so hurt you can do nothing but lie in a hospital bed. Here are some tips that may help you:
• Allow yourself to grieve. If you have lost loved ones, grief is a natural process that should not be ignored even if you have insurance papers to file and no place to call home. You may have to move quickly and feel as though you don’t have time to grieve fully. When this happens, promise yourself that you will soon honor your lost loved ones. Give yourself permission to attend to your immediate emergency needs now so that you can grieve properly once you are in a safe place.
• Ask for and accept help. Counseling, medical care and disaster assistance programs are available – and people from all over the world will want to help. Many disaster victims are reluctant to accept help or even resist it, but you need support. By allowing your neighbors, family members, friends or volunteers to help you, your eventual recovery will be 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, though horrific, often bring people and communities together. Many disaster victims find that they are stronger than they realised, and despite the misfortune that has fallen their way, they are willing to survive. You are also equipped to survive a disaster and one of the most effective tools you have is your ability to stay positive.