Our family has been in crisis-management-mode for the last many weeks. My mom is currently on her fourth hospital stay (three at UVA and one at UVA-Health South) since August 11. In this time, I have learned a lot about being a family in crisis and trying to juggle the health situation, family, work and daily life. Crisis happens. Life happens. It stinks, but it’s real. You probably know someone right now who is in the midst of a crisis-management situation.
Here are a few things I have learned in our encounter with crisis-management as a family:
Allow Disappointment. It’s such a real emotion and crying about that disappointment is okay. The tears serve as a release valve to the stress and sadness that is building up within one’s soul. When your friend or loved one is sitting in distress, hold them close and allow them to be disappointed.
Embrace Community. People’s physical presence is important. As much as I adore modern technology, there is something better about a physical body standing beside you saying “I’m with you and we can do this together.” Hand-holding, tear-wiping, remember-when-stories, hair-brushing, laughing-til-you-hurt are as important as prescribed medication.
You Are Not Forgotten. The texts and phone calls of “let me pick up your kids”, “I’m in this with you” are life-giving. It makes you feel like you have not been forgotten. When my mom receives these, she knows she is loved and she has a cheering section.
Don’t Ask, Just Do. If you are on the outside looking in on a family in crisis-management-mode, offer ways to help instead of a “Let us know if we can help..." Sometimes that means just going by Hallmark and buying a card. The cards Mom received this week brought rays of sunshine into a gloomy situation.
Take Care of My Kids. Offer to pick up kids and show them warmth and love because they are scared and unable to process exactly what is happening. They seem fine, but under the surface, their little minds have so many questions. Buy them a milkshake, take them to the playground. Loving my kids is an extension of loving me and their grandmother.
High Five The Husbands. The load the husbands carry is real. I’ve seen that. God designed them to be fixers and in crisis situation, they can’t always fix. This leaves them feeling helpless. I’ve observed this with my own eyes this week. Remind them: you are doing a good job loving your wife. Sometimes that affirmation is enough to carry them until the next medical decision that needs to be made.
Get A Village. Mom has come a long way. Her medical team is sensational. Her family is awesome. Her friends in both Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, at Mount Ararat (our church) and other parts of the country have shown up big time. They have written cards, sent flowers, sat by her bedside and cheered her on. But the main reason I love this village – their knees are worn out from prayer. They genuinely are asking God for provision and care for my mom. And as an only-child-daughter this means the absolute world to me. His plans for her are better than our plans ever could be.
If you are a family in crisis. I am genuinely so very sorry you are walking this journey. I know the ups and downs of it all too well. I pray you have people around you lifting you up and cheering you on.
If you know a family in crisis… circle up and love them well. You have an opportunity today to be better medication than anything purchased at the pharmacy.