Having resilience means being able to recover quickly from difficulties. And never in this century has resilience proven more important than now!
Who would have thought back in March that we’d be approaching September still living in a world of social distancing? It is difficult for everyone—but especially for families who are dealing with the impacts of a global pandemic while also trying to manage grief.
Over the years, we’ve spoken with many Fire Hero Families about how they have worked toward becoming more resilient. Here are some tips that you, too might find helpful as you face a path that may be different than the one you thought you would be traveling.
Learn from others who have “been there.”
While grief can certainly feel paralyzing, many Fire Hero Families have told us that the challenges they have faced caused them to grow and do what they would not otherwise have done. One described resilience as “living life to its fullest, even when that life is not what we wanted it to be.” Traveling the pathway of grief is about approaching one’s new life with grounded hope, balancing the reality of loss with the commitment to forge a new direction.
Take comfort in the proven resilience of children.
While it’s true that a line-of-duty death of a parent can have livelong impact on a child, many of you have told us how the children in your family amaze you with their strength and their joy, despite suffering such a great loss. Consider this at-home time as an opportunity for you to establish new traditions while honoring existing ones. Because when you are social distancing together for what may feel like an eternity, ice cream for breakfast on occasion might just be the best idea ever.
Share stories for comfort.
Remember to talk about your fire hero often. With family members and close friends in the “social distancing bubble” together, time spent in each other’s company offers a chance to start (or continue) a storytelling tradition. (If you have participated in any of our workshops, you’ve seen that talking is a great tool for healing.) Go through family photos and memorabilia. Tell—or retell—the stories surround the items and choose locations in your home to put your favorites on display.
Keep talking to your older kids.
The transition from childhood to adulthood is challenging on its own. Leaving home, going to college, entering the workforce, or getting married can carry additional complexities when accompanied by grief and loss—even in the best of times. During this time together (or via Zoom, if your kids live elsewhere), you can make checklists, do online shopping for the upcoming event, and make “resilience” your goal as you figure out ways to get ready for these normal life experiences during a time when nothing is actually normal.
Tap into the NFFF Family Programs peer network.
It offers a hand—or a shoulder—and gives you someone to share with during a time of seclusion. Many have found other Fire Hero Families to be invaluable for creating and maintaining personal relationships, finding meaningful support, and using communication to help improve lives and health. And for some of our families, the current “online only” events have made it easier to share (or not), depending on mood. Find upcoming virtual events here: www.firehero.org/virtual-family-events.