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Wagga Wagga Floods of 2012

Part of my job is helping people cope with disasters. But what do you say to someone who feels that all their hopes, dreams, house and livelihood are being washed away in a flood?

That is the situation here in Wagga Wagga now, and down river over the next month.

All too often people in that situation struggle to find the will to keep going… and there are no easy solutions!

The first thing you need to do, is ask for help. For some people, just being able to talk about their loss can make a huge difference, but others are looking for more practical help.

The fact is, there are times when after you have done all that, you still can’t keep things in perspective, and catastrophic thinking takes over. I too have been guilty of this and I find that I need to remind myself of the big picture by repeating (out loud if necessary) one of the following “coping statements”:

  • This too will pass…
  • Will this really matter in five years?
  • Relax, will getting angry help?
  • What can I do to help others who are worse off than me?
  • I can cope, I have resources I have not used yet…
  • I may miss these things, but my life is much more than these things!
  • I have done my best, I will leave the rest in God’s hands!

One word of caution, there is a big difference between self-talk and being told the same thing! People who are going through deep grief and loss are not comforted at all with words like those above – they will appear like cheap platitudes. So if you are trying to help and support others in there loss, just being there and helping in practical ways will mean a lot more than any words you can offer.

Come to think of it, maybe we all need to be reminded to be thankful for all that we have, rather than wait till it is threatened. God has been good to us, even in floods, because as a farmer friend would tell me, you can do a lot more with mud than dust.

Chaplain Ian S Whitley

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