Unexpected disaster happens to us all. How we deal with the results will determine the direction our life takes going forward. We can let an unexpected disaster destroy our dreams, pulverize our mindset, and keep us powerless. Or we can find empowering ways to recover, learn, grow, and become stronger because of it.
Lately, we have been dealing with a myriad of the unexpected. We are cowering in our homes, afraid to go outside because of the novel coronavirus. Then comes weeks of protests in response to the murder of George Floyd and others.
There are many ways to prepare for an unexpected disaster. But we can never prepare enough even though we know they can happen.
Personal, unexpected disaster comes in many forms:
– Your husband leaves or dies suddenly. You have to pick up the pieces of your heart. And you also have to pay special attention to how your children are handling the loss;
-The boss calls you into her office and tells you this is your last day. You never saw that coming, and you are already behind in your bills;
-You or someone close to you get a diagnosis of severe or life-threatening illness;
These are some examples of unexpected disasters. There are many more. But I wanted to touch on these as I’ve experienced all three in my life. My first bit of advice would be, don’t panic. My post on How To Change Your Mindset When You Suddenly Become a Solo Mom might help as well.
Your Child’s Dad is Gone
It can feel like the end of the world when your spouse dies or leaves you to care for your children alone. Social distancing may also have added to the unexpected dissolution of relationships. Some couples can’t withstand the difficulties of spending so much time together indoors.
ABCNews.com, reports an anticipated surge in divorce this year.
I wonder, though, if the break up of these marriages wasn’t a long time coming. It’s possible that quarantine forced these couples to deal with their situation head-on. Some choose to battle through others, give up, or recognize the end.
Regardless of the reason, no one plans a divorce or breakup. At least I hope people don’t, especially with kids in the mix. And though it’s expected at some times, we seldom plan for the death of a spouse.
So if this is happening to you, find ways to cope. It will prepare you to move on and to develop a new life for you and your children.
When you suddenly become a solo mom, there are ways you can build a new life so you and your children can recover. I moved because I didn’t see how to rebuild where I was. Change is scary, but courage can result in unexpected blessings, even amid disaster.
The first thing to do is to grieve the loss. Shaniqua, explains in her interview, how she dealt with the death of her 38-year-old husband. Left alone to raise their young son, she had to find ways to cope. But she realized it was a process.
Shara also lost her husband and carried the weight of figuring out life without him.
Lydia and her young son became homeless when her son’s dad locked them out of their home. It’s never something we see coming.
When I came home from work one day and found my house in shambles. When I realized my husband had taken every useful thing from our home and hightailed it out of our lives. I panicked. I fell apart. And then I put the lives of myself and my kids back together.
You find ways to manage to move forward. Not just for the kids. You keep going for you as well.
You Lost Your Job
During the 2006-09 financial crisis, my fledgling real estate business collapsed. It was a new career path for me. I had done well in the first nine months. But I was still dealing with the fallout from divorce.
The unexpected disaster of losing my source of income, while falling behind on my bills, threatened to end my life. Literally. I wanted to die because I couldn’t see a way out of the mess.
But being a solo mom, I had no choice but to look for ways out of my predicament. I had to look out for the children entrusted to me. I couldn’t be selfish and end my life because what would happen to them? These were the thoughts going through my mind at the time.
The solution for me then was to pack up and move nine hundred miles away to work in a temporary job. It was a crazy move, but I did what I needed to so my kids and I could recover. I realized I wasn’t tied to my situation. If the circumstances didn’t change, then I had to change. Change for us at the time meant moving cross country to a new state.
Once we found a new home, I tried to create a sense of belonging to our new community for my family. I joined a church, participated in group discovery, and volunteered in ministry.
I found a mentor for one of my sons. I threw myself into my work. These things helped me to find a sort of balance for my new situation. Even though I was always tired, scared, and felt alone.
I worked through depression by walking and seeing a therapist. Walking and being out in the sunshine helped me with my blood pressure as well.
Serious or Life-Threatening Illness
Studies show that 12 million adults and 400,000 children are living with a serious illness, such as cancer, heart or kidney disease, and dementia. The diagnosis of a serious illness can be very scary. That diagnosis depending on the prognosis can bring a whole host of worries along with it.
You or your loved ones will wonder how to pay for treatment if you do not have health insurance. You will fret over whether you will live to see your daughter walk down the aisle. You may worry if you will see your son graduate from college. But one of the ways to deal with a serious illness diagnosis is to step back and breathe a little.
Try to acknowledge the diagnosis. Let it sink in. What is this that I “have”. And how will it affect my life going forward? You may also try to decide who you can count on to help you cope with your new normal. Friends, family, and even your children can be a warm source of support.
Keep the lines of communication open with your doctor and caregivers. But don’t neglect to research your illness. Be careful not to use what you read on the internet as gospel. Question everything. Get a second opinion if in doubt. Do everything you can to maintain control, while still leaning on your support system.
Chris Wark talks about his journey after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. His story could be an inspiration to you and may help you find your center.
Your diagnosis could be common diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Being common doesn’t mean they are not serious. The long term consequences are still detrimental to your life. These common diseases still warrant specific attention, support, and treatment.
If you are a solo mom awaiting admittance to the hospital, you may wonder what to do with your children. How are you going to survive knowing your children may not get the care they need?
You have legitimate concerns amid what might be a terrifying time for you. But, this is a time to take a moment to review your situation. Now is time to seek some help and plan for the future.
Again seek help. Keep up with your care. Do your research in areas such as palliative care.
Unexpected disasters can come in many forms even if a situation is common. Adapting a stable mindset, getting help, and staying informed will help you to cope.
If you are a solo mom, an unexpected disaster can heighten its devastative effect. A solid co-parenting partner, committed family member or supportive friend can help. Find a way to reach out. You will be amazed at the help you will receive.
And remember, you are not alone.