It's a stressful time for many around the tri-State area after Hurricane Sandy with flooding, downed wires, sand everywhere and tempers rising at the pumps. For some people, the storm took a few beloved trees, but for others, they lost their whole lives in photos, mementos and sadly, even members of their families. It's a painful time and when the pressure builds up, it's easy to lose control. That's why I decided to write a blog today. I wanted to see if I could help ease people's minds and hearts through words and thoughts, if they had electric to read it.
We saw what happened to people in Hurricane Katrina when people became frustrated - they looted, they fought, they pushed and shoved. What people were saying at that time was that it would take a week to ten days or maybe even a month in some places, but I imagined that was unreasonable. There was no way to restore that many homes and lives in such a short time. Even when 9-11 happened, many thought we could get things going in a reasonable time, but as we all saw it took years, not months to clear the debris. When a crisis hits, the knee-jerk reaction is to assume it will be resolved in short periods of time because the mind just can't comprehend the extent of the damage. The best thing to say to yourself when a crisis hits is, "This is going to take a while to solve and to work through. There's no immediate solution for a traumatic event. Events of this magnitude take time - a lot of time - to solve and then to heal.
I'm not a trained psychologist, but I would guess that any health care professional would tell you trauma and shock take a lot of time. First, there is denial that something even occurred, then you come out of the denial and get angry. When the anger subsides you begin to feel sad and depressed and then try to return to the denial to feel better. The Kubler-Ross model (see Wikipedia for a quick look) shows stages of what people go through in life when they are facing something serious. It helps a little to know these stages because they can apply to almost any kind of problem. To deny that we, as human beings, go through different responses to life's troubles is foolish and only compounds our problems.
So for today, what can you do to make life a little easier for you, your neighbor, or your community? The temptation is to think "What can one person do in a time like this?" When you are thinking like that, it is only going to paralyze you to stay in your own world and do nothing. Doing something is a positive outlet, no matter how little it is. Solving problems comes through taking each moment and doing what you can in each situation. We all have the power to do one good deed for another person. It doesn't solve everyone's problem, but it can solve that one person's problem, right?
I have a relative who is a police officer and he gets out there every day to bring solutions to people. First responders are people who really want to help and risk a lot personally to make a difference in the lives of others. They are not people who say, "What can I possibly do to help that many people?" or "Isn't that awful what's happening to them?" They just go out there each time and do what they can to alleviate problems in the lives of our fellow citizens. They are people with big hearts who keep our world safe and secure and I appreciate them more each day.
Summarizing my thoughts for the day, I would say that we, as a tri-State community, need patience with ourselves and others, as well as time to sort things out. Life is not going to go back to normal quickly, so all we can do is try to help out where we can. Respect those who are risking their lives to save others, especially in the fires or floods. Remember: catastrophic events take time to accept, to sort out and to solve. Do what you can right where you are, and if possible, try to smile!