My friend, Jennifer's mother was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. She flew thousands of miles to be with her mom and support the rest of the family during what was a very difficult time. While she was gone, she received a phone call that her home had been robbed.
What Jennifer encountered in each situation was a crisis. One was a short-term crisis that could be resolved within a few weeks (the robbery) but one was a long-term crisis (her mother’s terminal cancer) that would have a painful ending.
Coming out on the other side of a crisis isn’t easy for anyone. Nothing challenges you or drains you quite like an unexpected crisis. You may struggle with what to do next and wonder how you’ll go on.
Rest assured these feelings are completely normal. While you’re dealing with this, it can be helpful to examine the different types of crises and how they affect our lives…
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRISES
Understanding what type of crisis you're facing can make a big difference. It can help you come up with an action plan and thrive during the crisis. With that in mind, let's review a few different types of crises and how they can affect you.
A financial crisis can occur for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you lost your job or were swindled out of money. Maybe the company managing your pension fund went under and left you bankrupt. Perhaps a spouse has gambling debts and you're about to lose your home. Maybe you're just not very good with managing your money.
A financial crisis can be extremely stressful. That’s because they can affect every area of your life including your housing, your relationships, and your health. I've been in more than one financial crisis and I long for the day that they JUST. STOP.
A health crisis happens when your health is in jeopardy. This might be facing the diagnosis of a chronic illness, learning you have a terminal condition, or it could be living with an undiagnosed health problem that makes you feel crummy. I spoke last week about Carianne's health crisis – it's ongoing and long term. Someday she'll need dialysis and a kidney transplant. She's already in stage 3 kidney failure at the age of 29.
I've had my own health crises that resulted in a hysterectomy, but not before several doctors consulted with each other because I had heavy uterine bleeding for 8 straight months and was given high doses of BCPs to stop it only to develop a DVT – that landed me in the ER. They couldn't start anticoagulation because I already needed a blood transfusion from the amount of blood I'd lost. They were concerned about the DVT becoming a PE and also the amount of blood I was losing. Eventually I had a a uterine ablation, D&C, anticoagulation, and then the hysterectomy several months later.
The thing about a health crisis is it can quickly become expensive, overwhelming, and affect other areas of your life. For example, with a health crisis, you may find that you suddenly have to take time off work which can lead to a financial crisis if you lose your job. Now, you have both your health and your finances to worry about and you're in a vicious cycle. Luckily, I worked for the federal government, had good insurance, and sick leave, and FMLA available to me. Carianne had insurance via the Army, but didn't have any benefits from her own employers, but they were so concerned and were so gracious that both employers took collections for her. If only every employer realized its employees were its greatest assets.
NATURAL DISASTER CRISIS
A natural disaster crisis occurs when a natural disaster forces you into crisis mode. This could be an earthquake, fire, tornado, or a hurricane, just to name a few examples.
During a natural disaster, your home or vehicle could be destroyed. You may lose some or all of your possessions. In some situations, family members, friends, or pets may perish during the catastrophe.
After a disaster, it's common to feel like you have no control. It can be overwhelming and scary. You may wonder what your life will look likein the future and you may be facing the prospect of rebuilding everything you once loved.
I've lived through small earthquakes – things fell off the shelves and walls, but no major damage was done however, I also lived through hurricanes, tornados, and Three Mile Island (as a child). Although I don't think that can be classified as natural.
A family crisis can take on many forms: a cheating spouse, a disclosure of abuse, a family member struggling with alcoholism, drugs, or another addiction.
Like many crises, a family crisis can affect your relationships. It may strain your marriage or lead to estrangement from your relatives. It can even cause you to feel as if you don't know yourself or those you love.
Scott and I have lived through some very difficult years in our marriage. Many times we almost divorced and once we separated for nearly a year. We were both to blame. There was abuse involved and even other people however, we sought therapy – both individual and couple's therapy. Once we made the decision to make it work we did everything in our power to do just that.
A family crisis doesn't have to be the end of the marriage or lead to the dissolvement of a family.
With that said, please visit the resource page for information if you are in crisis and need help. It includes information for the Domestic Violence Hotline and the Sexual Assault Hotline among others.
A national crisis affects the nation or area where you live. This can be a pandemic or an economic crisis such as a recession. A national crisis is likely to affect not just you but those around you as well.
You may have difficulty getting supplies like medication and needed household goods such as toilet paper. You may also be at risk of losing your job and worried about how you’ll feed your family during this time.
We're all living this crisis right now – even if you're still working and haven't had any problems finding toilet paper, you may have be (or have been) living under shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders. Curfews are put in place, lines are long in the stores, social distancing is enforced, masks are worn, and you may have a friend or loved one who has gotten ill or even died from COVID 19. And, economically, our country is suffering. Many, if not all, countries, are suffering. However, it won't last forever. And, I'm taking this as a lesson learned to be prepared for ‘next time' because I do believe there will be a ‘next time.' Maybe it won't be COVID-19, but it will be something…..maybe a natural disaster.
SHORT-TERM VS. LONG-TERM CRISIS
Keep in mind crises fall into one of two categories: short-term or long-term. A short-term crisis may only last a few days to a few weeks whereas a long-term crisis can last months or even years. A short-term crisis is typically resolved quickly but a long-term crisis is ongoing.
Remember that one crisis can lead to the next. A medical crisis could become a financial crisis if you're forced to take time off your job for a much-needed surgery. A family crisis could become a health crisis if the stress from dealing with a cheating spouse begins to affect your mental health.
It’s important to understand the different types of crises and understand which one you're facing. But know that a crisis doesn’t have to be the end of you. You can overcome anything life throws your way. Anything.