Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Out of the Blue

When we grow up in a relatively stable family with parents who love and nurture us into adulthood; when we make a decision to spend our life with someone who has won our heart and we’ve chosen him or her to see us through the future regardless of what that future may hold; when we have children and make any and all necessary sacrifices in order to eventually propel them from the family nest and out into the vast unknown of self-survival…we do all this with expectations that we will have some challenges along the way, of course, but nothing that we won’t be able to handle.

Our parents will grow old and we expect they’ll need help getting to and from doctor visits, help with the marketing and perhaps even with preparing meals from time to time.

Our chosen partners will help us with the older folks, no doubt, but a day will probably come when we may even have to help our partner, too; there’s plenty of time to decide on how best to take care of those needs of the future.

Any children we gather along the way (our own, or through marriage or adoption) are our responsibility for a time but we know the day will come when they will be knocking on our door to gratefully repay all the kindnesses we have bestowed on them throughout their formative years… kindnesses they will be eager and prepared to return.

Then, out of the blue, our loved one comes down with a brain illness. Totally unexpected. We’re not sure of the details yet. All we know is they’ve crash landed somewhere and we really don’t know what to do, or if there is anything we can do. Besides worry. We find ourselves doing a lot of that.

Scientists sometimes refer to occurrences of this kind as unanticipated stress. We never see these situations coming, and often they are extremely stressful. Upheaval takes over. Turmoil rules the day. Everything in our life is upended. We’re frightened. It’s difficult to leave the house. Unanticipated stress, we soon discover, is stress of the worst kind. We're afraid that we and our loved one may not be able to survive this terrible situation. How do we survive such challenges? Where should we start.

A family support group may be a good place to find out. They're just about everywhere. If you need help finding one, let us know. 

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