Life can bring many ups and downs with it. We continually move through transitions, and with those transitions - be they physical, social, or personal - they bring many changes. If we have decided on a change, we are often looking forward to the difference that it is going to make in our lives - for instance a new job, which may have an increased salary with a promotion and new responsibilities: this can be rewarding for all the long hours, study and work that someone has committed to. On the other hand, we can be forced into change; for instance someone losing a job and being forced to make huge changes such as standard of living, or reinventing themselves by upskilling or returning to college. There can be huge financial implications with something like this, and people have to take time to adjust to the many changes as well as dealing with the emotional impact of these changes. These kinds of transitions not only have their impact on the individual but also the whole family.
Transitions and change are one thing, but we can also look at more acute changes which can be defined as a time of crisis. This could include what we have mentioned, for instance losing a job, but it can also include things like someone being in an accident, illness, a break-up or a difficult time in a relationship, a child dropping out of school, or natural catastrophes. A crisis can be described as something that happens sometimes suddenly, or there can be a lead-up to it. It can feel like a time of intense difficulty, a turning-point, or a time when we are pushed into making a decision on something; it can take us by surprise, and one thing for sure is your life is unlikely to ever be the same again because of the change this experience has brought with it.
If we were to take one of the above, just to expand our thinking on how we might deal with something like this, I might focus on being diagnosed with a long-term illness; this can often have a huge impact on a person’s life and those around them. There may have been a lead-up to this, or sometimes it can happen quite suddenly; a person may have been feeling unwell for quite some time, they may be waiting to see a consultant and they may have to wait for results of tests. This can often be a time of facing into the unknown, and it can bring with it many anxieties. Even when a person receives their diagnosis, they will be faced with looking at treatment options, which may include things like surgery and medications; it may be a time of trial and error to see what kind of things work best for the person concerned, in order to give them a good quality of life.
What people need at a time like this is to look at the supports they can build on. They need to keep some kind of normal structure to their day and learn to take each day at a time. By building a supportive network around you which may include support groups, family and friends, you will get to know the people you can count on.
Look after yourself emotionally; there is an intellectual and an emotional acceptance that needs to be worked at in all times of change. Each and everyone in the family will have somewhat different needs depending on their age, and it is understanding how to address these that is important; it may take some time, but open and direct communication can help identify what these needs may be. One of the biggest challenges in life is to take the positive and the negatives from what we are faced with; it is in holding both that we can discover the real meaning in our lives.
“There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.” - R. D. Laing.
Relationship Counsellor