Thursday, February 21, 2013

After the Emergency is Over - Prepare How Life Will Go On

Tip - 299 - After the Emergency Is Over, Prepare How Life Will Go On - In my recently completed series on emergencies, I discussed a lot about how to prepare for emergencies - financially, physically, and emotionally - and what you need to do to get through the emergency situation. What I did not discuss is how to prepare your life for when the emergency is over. We may prepare for the emergency itself, but not necessarily the aftermath of it and how your life will change from it. The popular term for this is "the new normal." What will your life look like after the emergency is over? After the earthquake is over and you have picked up the pieces of your shattered home, how will your lives change? Or after your sick spouse passes away, and a year down the road you realize you need to make adjustments, what will you do? Or for those dealing with a job loss who finally lands a job in a new field or for much less money, what then? The sudden emergency has passed - the act of mother nature, the devastating illness, or the loss of a job. And the "new normal" is in its place - a new home location, a widowed spouse, or a period of time earning much less income.

Be Flexible. First and formost, as with many things in life, we need to be flexible. After the death of a spouse, you may no longer be a stay-at-home-mother. The kids might need to go to aftercare. Your income may drop considerably, and activities your family once did will no longer be the norm. Your days of working part-time and being scout leader may end for quite awhile as you put in long hours at a full-time job, and adjust to your new schedule.

Communication is key. Again, as in many aspects of your life, be open with communication. Explain to children why things have changed. Why, after your house burned down in a fire, you will no longer be living on the same side of town for awhile. Or after the hurricane that flooded your city, why you needed to start over in a new city and may not return to your old city for a long time, if at all. Be open with yourself that you now have to take on new responsibilities.

Learn from the Emergency. Sometimes the worst things in life become the greatest teaching tools. There is no rule in life that an emergency will happen to you once. You may get hit by an earthquake twice or more. Or someone in your family who gets sick and recovers may get sick again down the road. Or perhaps a person will be hit with two differrent emergencies, a job loss one year and several years later, a natural disaster. Use what you learned from how well you handled the first emergency to prepare you for the next possible one. Was your emergency fund big enough? Did you find support groups helpful? Which friends and family members were you able to count on? What would you do differently to prepare for another emergency?

Move On With Your Life. Easier said than done, I know, and more simple with certain types of emergencies like a job loss than with others like the death of a spouse. But after a period of time of grieving what you lost - your spouse, your old home, your former city, or your old job - there will come a time, when you just need to move forward and look toward the future. Unforunately, there is no way to turn back the hands of time, so you must learn to accept your new life as it stands. Nothing will ever be the same (and even without an emergency situation, nothing stays the same), but along with the challenges of your new life, there will be new relationships, more self-reliance, new experiences, more confidence and yes, even new joys.

In Real Life (IRL) - Most emergency situations don't afford the gift of time. Emergencies often hit swiftly. Although with prior planning, the upheavals after the emergency can often be delayed, most people's lives will still change afterwards, sometimes dramatically. Growing up, my close friend lost her father suddenly to a heart attack. My friend's father was a successful businessman, while her mom was a stay-at-home mother, so financially, their lives changed considerably. They were, because of prior financial planning, able to maintain their lives as close to the norm as possible for a couple of years after his death. But even with that, the mother had to return to work; the regular vacations they used to enjoy ended; and the large house they were living in became a burden, so they moved. Within a few yeas, their former lives changed into their new lives - working mom, condo living, and frugal vacations. Even with their prior planning, their lives still changed dramatically becuase of a sudden death.

In most emergency situations, the life you knew before the emergency will change into a different life after the initial emergency has passed. We should realize that while we can prepare in several ways to handle the emergency, we may still be faced with a completely different "normal" in our lives after the emergency situation is over. In fact, an emergency often isn't a one-time event that ends, but one that will likely impact our future lives. We should be prepared to accept that our lives will change, sometimes dramatically.