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In a Crisis

A date thingy? Ah! Calendar

January 2013

Sorry for the late post, quite apt due to the problems I’m having with my laptop at the moment. One crisis I’m pulling my hair out over! So, I do hope (laptop permitting) I get to finish this post and take time to read a few posts, too. I haven’t sold out, just tenderly picking my way through, pleading that the laptop genie will grant me my wish today. Let there be power!

Okay, now that’s done, I’ll get back to the writing challenge.

Day 39. Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?

During my career days, I would say I handled a crisis quite effectively. I never became flustered. I never ran around like a headless chicken. And I always felt in control.

However, personal crisis is a different matter altogether. I’m going to tell you a story, a true story, something I don’t share very easily. You know from a previous post that I lost my dad when I was young. Well here’s what happened.

I awoke to loud screams. The bedroom was dark. I was sixteen. It took me a second to realise the sound was coming from my parents bedroom. As another guttural cry broke the darkness, I ran from my room to my parents.

The sight that greeted me was both terrifying and surreal. Lying on the floor beside the bed, was my dad. My mum hovered on the bed on her knees, a tiny tablet held between her fingertips. She screamed at me to help.

I dropped to the floor beside him. Think, I told myself. My mum’s cries of ‘he wouldn’t take the tablet’ echoing in my ears. Okay, I know how to do the kiss of life and chest compressions, I thought, urging myself closer. As I leaned over and tilted his warm head, blood trickled from his lips. I reacted, drawing my hands to my chest, horrified. Where my mum had tried to force the tablet in his mouth, she’d made his gums bleed. ‘I can’t do this,’ I said, staring at my dads lifeless face, his empty eyes staring at the ceiling.

A low rumble escaped his mouth, and for the first time I screamed. I found out later my dad was already dead by then, and the sound was the air leaving his body. A death cry, I called it.

My dad died 17th December 1981. My world ended that day.

It didn’t matter that they told me I couldn’t have done anything. I had failed myself and him. I froze in a crisis.

Three days later, I withdrew from six-form, cancelling my dream of becoming a graphic designer. My guiding force was no longer there, giving me hope and words of wisdom.

For years I withdrew from situations of crisis, which involved a family member. Up until the day they admitted my mum to hospital. I spent the night before her death with two of my brothers, sitting beside her, holding her hand, brushing her hair. Where we took the decision to withdraw medication so she could die peacefully. I wasn’t there when she actually died. But at least I had a chance to say my goodbye before she departed this world.

I felt a sense of redemption with the way I handled the crisis with my mum. Maybe, because I was older, had a mature head to think clearer, who knows. Only time will tell.




  1. elleturner4 says:

    I’ve found it very hard to know what to say to this post only that I understand the loss and I understand the feeling ‘horrified’ that you mention. 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    I have read, and re-reading John Bader’s book, The Responsive Universe http://responsiveuniverse.wordpress.com/ which has been a help to me in understanding my reactions to panic situations. I am learning to control my negative responses.

    A negative response gives energy back to negative, and can escalate a negative situation.

    The negative response is the ego responding, and only feeds the fire. I am training myself to take my responses, elsewhere with the premise, what do I do to make this situation good? Try to lower my voice, and sound pleasant.

    This is not an easy lesson to learn but, I am working on it.

  3. twindaddy says:

    What a harrowing story. I can’t imagine what dealing with must have been like. Especially at 16 years old. Hopefully you now have accepted that there’s nothing you could have done and that your reaction in no way affected the outcome. Stay strong, Sarah.

  4. Yes, because you were older. And being older now you probably realize your reaction was that of a young girl.
    If you had it all to do over…but aahh well If If’s and Buts were candy and nuts we’d ALL have a good Christmas.

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