Storms lends opportunity for lessons about being prepared and self sufficient

  • Sunday, February 9, 2014

By the time you are reading this, I hope you will have recovered from any ill effects - frustrations, damage, or even relationship stress caused by Winter Storm Leon. Like many, I lost income, had long treks across town, used up half of my winter feed for my critters and even am grieving a broken crepe myrtle or two, broken from the weight of the ice. Feel very blessed. I'd love to hear about your experiences, and especially creative ways you entertained the children while out of school. About that - bear with me as I express an opinion - our community was ridiculed from outside and even from within - “over-reacting,” closing schools before a drop had fallen, carefully monitoring roads and bridges, and emptying grocery shelves. But I commend our leaders because they prevented frightening, life threatening hardships as were faced in Alabama and Atlanta. It is traumatic to have to keep warm in your stuck car - or school bus - all night. I pray all are ok. And that many lessons about being prepared and self sufficient were learned.

Dear Liz,

We had the scare of our life, driving several cars behind those hit by ice on the Ravenel bridge. It happened so fast and out of nowhere. Luckily we cleared the bridge and made sure officials were notified and had our statement of what we saw. The problem is, not only are my kids now scared to go back over the bridge, I am too. Suggestions?

Close call

Dear “Close Call,”

That had to have been terrifying. It is scary enough to be involved in a wreck, or to witness one. But this was a unique cause and effect...hard to know when you are finally in the clear. Post Traumatic Stress can be triggered by 1. Fear that you or loved one could die (and the length of that risk); 2. Sudden frightening event; 3. Fear of injury 4. Long or short term risk --and depends on the emotional wellness of the person involved. What you and your children are experiencing is normal, but if exaggerated fear lingers more than a few weeks, I'd seek some assistance with a licensed professional who deals with PTSD. Some simple things to try - 1. Armed with crayons, markers and paper have each of you draw the event, then share what you drew and how you felt. You can make this project as artistically complex as the abilities and interests of your family. 2. Gather facts about the event, the bridge and what transportation and law enforcement will be doing to make sure this doesn't happen again. You may even arrange for the children to meet with such officials and prepare questions in advance. Share what you learn in a family meeting. 3. Have a field trip to the bridge and have a picnic near or under it at Waterfront Park in Mt. Pleasant. If this generates too much anxiety, have the picnic as far from the bridge as needed, but where you can see it. Keep moving closer. Do not minimize the children's fears because what happened was real. Let them talk about it as much as they need to - you too. Many of these same kinds of interventions are helpful in the aftermath of any emergency or traumatic event. Please don't try to handle it alone. There is a lot of help available - and the sooner you seek it, the easier it is to remedy. Lastly, prayer is a wonderful thing. Apply it liberally. Teach your kids how to talk to God. All the time. So glad you are otherwise safe. Best wishes to any and all involved with an unfortunate events from the storm. Try also to focus on the humorous aspects. Like now called “ninja Jim Cantore” from the Weather Channel, here in Charleston covering the storm - which was both funny and scary at the same time. (Google it if you missed his self defense move on a student out to interrupt a live shot at the College of Charleston). I'll never forget it.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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