During the coronavirus pandemic, my family learned to get better at fear and crisis management. We didn’t know when life would get back to normal. That odd time of quarantine came on the heels of a stressful six months. My father was diagnosed with aggressive non-Hodgkins lymphoma and was given months to live if he didn’t respond to treatment. The days waiting to see if he would respond were agonizing. Then my beloved grandpa passed away two months later. Although he was nearly 95 and had a very good life, losing him and processing all he has meant to me has been taxing, to say the least.
1. Expect less of yourself.
Grief and crisis take up an enormous amount of emotional bandwidth. Become OK with serving frozen pizza and chicken nuggets. You never have to be everything to everyone anyway, but during a crisis, go especially easy on yourself. I grant myself grace in those times to be less productive and set normal standards aside. That includes getting a little mentally spacey. Processing takes energy and becoming less task-oriented means I have one less burden.
2. Ask for help.
Maybe your immediate family members are grieving and in crisis too, so don’t be afraid to ask friends for help. I was blessed and comforted by the people who brought my parents and me meals, and even provided a catered meal before my grandpa’s wake so we could all focus on being together instead.
3. Don’t pretend.
Even though they’re only two and three, my kids understand why I’m crying. They comfort me with hugs and kisses. It’s good for them to see my vulnerable human moments, and it’s empowering for them to know they can help me. We pray for Grandpa’s soul and I assure them that even though I’m sad right now, I’m still OK.
4. Communicate with your spouse.
Grief and worry are strange: One moment you can act normal, and the next it seems like nothing is going right. Sometimes grief or worry manifest as something else. For example, an unrelated problem will cause me anger or stress when normally, it wouldn’t. Don’t pretend like your spouse has a Magic 8-Ball and sees inside your head: Say what’s bothering you aloud!
5. Do something tangible.
The morning I got the phone call that Grandpa was gone, I said to myself, “I still have to be a mom today.” We went to a local garden store where I bought several beautiful plants in my Grandpa’s honor that the kids help me cultivate. When you can’t control the big picture, it helps to control something small and create something beautiful.
When you can’t control the big picture, it helps to control something small and create something beautiful.
What keeps your parenting strong in times of crisis management?