By Janaki Jane
The accompanying graph shows, more or less, how individuals and communities commonly respond to disaster over time.
Looking at it, you can see that at eight months after the September floods we are just about at the bottom of that disillusionment trough.
Of course, how individuals and communities respond varies. In the same way people go through the grieving process differently when they lose a person close to them, so everyone responds differently to being in a disaster.
So even though we have come to a time when many people are feeling that it’s all just too much, we do have ways to help ourselves and each other deal with the bad days.
It is perfectly understandable that the physical labor, the financial and legal challenges, and the mental and emotional stresses occasionally just catch up with us. When that happens, when the problems feel insurmountable, there are things we can do to help ourselves get our balance back.
One important thing to remember is that becoming discouraged at this time is a common reaction to have. The other day at the post office, someone commented on the number of folks who are still fighting FEMA. “They come and talk about how they just can’t seem to get any help.” Many people are feeling discouraged after months of challenges. You aren’t the only one.
Sometimes it might seem like as the green leaves appear on the trees, the rest of Colorado is planning vacations and barbecues, having forgotten entirely what some people are still going through. That is the perfect time to make plans to do something relaxing yourself. It might be as simple as going to a park that is still intact and grilling hot dogs or having a picnic.
Everyone has ways that they keep going when the going gets tough. If you just can’t think of a way to get out of the doldrums, or past the resentment, maybe call a friend and ask them to go for a quick cup of coffee or walk, and talk with them about how they keep their chin up. It could even turn into a regular thing—getting together for a half hour a week to share ways to stay the course.
Celebrate the little steps, because that’s what makes things happen. Acknowledging how much further along we are than 6 months ago helps us to keep things in perspective.
Recovery takes time. We keep hearing that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And recovery is not just a physical process. Our hearts and mind need time to recover, too. If we look at the graph again, we see that things do get better. It will never be the same as it was. But the line rises, back to or above where it was before, and there is a new normal.
If you are feeling discouraged and need a non-judgmental person to talk to about it, the Colorado Spirit Flood Recovery Team is here for you. You can come to us, or we can come to you. We have drop-in hours from 10 to 2 Monday through Friday at our offices at 431 Main Street above the Barking Dog, or you can make an appointment.