Your Life: Be sensitive to tornado survivors during the holidays

Charlotte Lankard: As we approach Thanksgiving, let's be sensitive to the survivors of this year's tornadoes.
By Charlotte Lankard Modified: November 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm •  Published: November 19, 2013
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As we approach Thanksgiving, let's be sensitive to the survivors of this year's tornadoes.

Jan Davis, a lady who lost her home in the May 3, 1999, tornado writes, “It was mind-boggling with all the decisions we had to make about a new home and replacing all the items we needed. My parents' home was also destroyed which only added to the difficulties. I gradually learned that we not only grieve the loss of those close to us, but also the major loss of possessions. Added to that is the confusion. I could be in the bedroom and need something in the kitchen. I would go to the kitchen and have no clue why I'd gone there. It was probably six months before I could concentrate on the story line of a book and I enjoy a good book. I learned that everyone grieves differently and whatever they are feeling is normal.”

Grieving is normal and natural but it is a neglected and misunderstood experience.

Families in Moore have told me their relatives and friends don't want to keep hearing about it. When asked how they are doing — and they reply, “not so good” — they're often scolded: “A lot of people have it worse and it's time you get over it and move on.”

Easy to say unless you find yourself living in someone else's house, comforting still-fearful children, continually struggling with insurance claims and facing the arduous task of adapting to a new reality.

We are taught how to acquire things, not how to lose them. And whether it is the loss of a home, the loss of trust and feeling safe, the loss of a limb or a relationship, the death of a loved one or the loss of your health, grief takes time.

Jan Davis will tell you there is a good life — and three new grandchildren — on the other side, but it can't be rushed.

If you would like to visit with Jan Davis send an email to tornadosurvivor@att.net.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at clankard@opubco.com.