Returning to Normal When Things Are Abnormal

By April 18, 2011Generations

Returning to Normal in Abnormal TimesWhen the headline lands on your lap, how do you return to normal? When someone in your family faces unknown challenges ahead, how do you return to normal? These are the questions we are struggling with now.

My brother was in an explosion which has altered his life beyond what I could ever imagine. At the core, he is alive; a miracle or luck… pick your word or approach, but we are grateful, thankful for this fact. We rally around him. We mobilize forces for support. We travel to be there. However, when the recovery time is a year – at a minimum, how can we all sustain the effort? My brother is living it; he has to… We all have our lives; how do we balance it? Are we callous people because we are not at his bedside constantly?

These are some of the thoughts that travel through your mind. There isn’t an hour that goes by right now where I don’t think about him, say a 10-second prayer, and wonder how it will all get back to normal. You wish you could re-wind or fast forward, but no such option exists in life.

There are a few truths which seem to come out in these times.

First, there are no express lanes in life.We have, unfortunately, come so accustomed to quick answers, quick results, quick feelings of satisfaction that we lose sight of our life or efforts as a complete book, with chapters of twists and turns, ups and downs, successes and failures. When the healing process is at least a year as in my brother’s case, it delivers some type of perspective that he just isn’t going to wake up one morning, begin to speak and walk and begin his normal life again. It is a small step by small step movement toward the goal of returning to his next chapter after being detoured by a blast.

We all need to adjust to the new reality and pace ourselves for the long haul.

Second, there is a community of support beyond the immediate family. Over the last few weeks, I have had email and telephone discussions with more cousins than I have had in decades. As kids, we visited each other every summer. As adults, we have all become distant memories. When tragedy strikes, those family networks do spring to life and reconnect beyond belief.

It is more than just family, too. Friends of my brother circle around, ready to jump in and help. It is his church, praying constantly and ready to help in whatever way possible. It is beyond his immediate realm… friends of friends, relatives of relatives, and the list goes on.

There is a community present ready to rally, and all that was needed to enliven it was a call to action. We just need to figure out to have this community sense outside of tragedies.

The final truth is we cannot solve everything. We need to determine what we can do, and do it. We need to let others play a role and fill in the gaps. If I could, I would be at my brother’s bedside for the next year, but I cannot. I can’t ignore my own family responsibilities. Besides that, my brother would not expect it nor would he want it! The shock of me doing that may even set him back a few months!

We need to trust in whatever we trust in. If you are religious, then put trust in God. If you believe in the sciences, then put trust in health care technology and expertise. If you believe in other spiritual elements, then center your thoughts there. Some may place wagers on all three.

Individually, we cannot do it all.

Realizing all three truths, we become an important spoke in the complete wheel of lending a hand in the healing process. Returning to normal in abnormal times is tough. We don’t have all the answers right now, and I am not sure you can. It is important to keep your perspective, engage your community, and solve what you can.

Do you have a story of returning to normal in abnormal times? What lessons learned can you share?

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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  • Hi Jon,

    First off, sorry to hear about your brother. I don’t think any of us can imagine what he must be going through and the long-term impact it will have on his life.

    It’s nice to hear how your family and friends have rallied around to offer your brother support in his time of need. I agree with your last point that we can’t expect to solve everything. I would add that what we need to learn to do is focus not so much on what’s out of our control, but on the choices we do have over how we’ll manage/deal with a given situation.

    Granted, sometimes those choices might not seem like the best ones, but the fact is that they are there and as such, we can at least feel empowered by the fact that there’s at least something we can do about the challenges that come across our way.

    With the kind of support and insights you share here, I’m sure you’re brother’s road to recovery will be a lot easier than it would be otherwise.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Tanveer, for your kind and insightful comments. Very grateful for them.

      My brother’s recovery does continue to take small steps forward, which is very encouraging. The uncertainty can drive you crazy. However, I was thinking about that this morning and realized how is this different than any other life? We deal with uncertainty every day. We may not think about it as much, because there hasn’t necessarily been a shock which highlights the uncertainty.

      You are right; we just need to focus on the choices we can control.

      Your comments are very much appreciated.

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