By Dr. Renee Hornbuckle
Coping with any type of loss, whether it involves personal possessions, a job or a family member, can be very stressful. When faced with a loss, crisis or life-changing event, you are suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar world, one that can be frightening and unsettling. As our world continues to experience devastation and destruction – we must know how to cope!!
- The truth is that God did not ask us to try and figure out why things happen the way they do.
- He did not ask us to figure out who or what is to blame.
- He just said to love Him and love others.
So, instead of focusing on the why and the negative, we must find the positive and the good, and ask what lessons we are to learn. We must learn how to react for ourselves, and be concerned about how our reaction affects others. Knowing how to make it through the first few days or hours can provide us comfort in the midst of a crisis. We must accept that crises are a normal part of life – some are mild and soon forgotten; others are intense and life-changing. Because they are disruptive, all crises require us to respond and to make decisions. Almost always, there is emotional turmoil with accompanying physical reactions.
When you have a crisis you probably will notice three phases that you experience:
- You feel stunned, have difficulty believing that the event has really happened, maybe confused about what to do next, and sometimes overwhelmed by emotion.First comes shock
- Next, there is a phase of initial coping. Depending on the severity of the crisis, this phase may continue for a few weeks, for several months, or longer. The person in crisis struggles to accept and cope with the reality of what has happened. Often there is anxiety, insecurity, insensitivity to others, inefficiency (including a decline of work performance), and all of the emotions that come with grievÂing. Decision making is important at this time, but difficult. The person in crisis may wonder if he or she will be able to cope, to get beyond the crisis, and ever be happy and fulfilled again.
- Eventually, most people edge into a third phase, adjustment. The reality of the crisis event is accepted emotionally and intellectually, anxiety tends to lessen, new behaviors and ways of living become routine, and the person is able to go on with life.
The Christian believes that Christ gives hope and comfort in times of stress. For centuries, people have found help and consolation in the pages of Scripture. 2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. AMP
We benefit from the peace that comes from Christ and from the strength that He gives. Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel,
We also benefit from the warmth and acceptance of fellow believers who show love but who avoid simplistic answers to difficult “Why?” questions. In crises, we are most helped by other people who are present, availÂable, and praying. When you are able to talk about your feelings, including your confusion and anger, there is less likelihood that trouble-producing bitterness will develop. The pain and memories may never go away, but we can grow through crises and, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, move on with our lives.
When faced with a life challenge or any kind of a loss it is helpful to remember the basics. This is a healthy coping strategy short list that I like to recommend to people to keep them moving during the first initial phase of any kind of crisis:
- Process Your Feelings! Take it one hour at a time, one day at a time, if need be one moment at a time.
- Take Care Of Yourself! Get enough sleep or at least enough rest.
- Try and maintain some type of a normal routine.
- Remember that regular exercise helps relieve stress and tension.
- Eat a balanced diet. Limit high calorie and junk food. Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid using alcohol, medications or other drugs in excess or to mask the pain.
- Find Support! Talk to others, especially those who have lived through and survived similar experiences. Be with people who comfort, sustain and recharge you.
- Be Patient With Yourself! Give yourself time to heal.
- Find creative ways- journal, paint, photograph, build, woodwork, quilt, knit, collage or draw- to express intense feelings.
- Remember the coping skills you have used to survive past losses. Draw upon these inner strengths again.
- Seek help If You Need To!
- Focus only on what\’s important!
- PRAY! And wait to hear from God on what to do!
Dr. Renee Hornbuckle
Dr. Renee Hornbuckle is the Senior Pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship, Arlington, TX. President of Women of Influence Inc., a Crisis/ Life Coach, an Author, Motivational Speaker and Entrepreneur.