Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pausing Before Acting

I deal with situations of grief and loss.  A lot.

I deal with people who lose spouses.

I deal with people who lose children.

I deal with people who get diagnosed with cancer.

I deal with people whose children suffer strange illnesses and debilitating attacks.

In every circumstance, there is an initial stage of doing and working through the emergency circumstances of what is/has happened.  And then the hard work begins--working through the next several months/years of grief, depression, anxiety, acceptance, and healing.

One thing has emerged in nearly every circumstance.  There is one piece of advice given to nearly every person who has lost a spouse or child or suffered through a long ordeal of fighting a disease:

Do not make any major decisions for at least six months!

I am not the only person making such a recommendation.  Grief counselors and others offer this advice on a regular basis.  My members who have worked with hospice tell of receiving this counsel, and it is wise.

The reasoning behind the counsel is that when going through emotional turmoil, we don't think clearly.  We don't make decisions based on logic, reason, or what may be best.  We are not operating with the full capacity of our brains.  We tend to be locked down in the brain stem which is reactive instead of pro-active.  Time is needed to allow clear thinking so that better decisions can be made.  Those who follow the advice usually are very, very thankful that they did.

Which brings me to dealing with societal issues.

Looking at how our society currently operates leads me to believe we should put a six month moratorium on making major legal decisions after some sort of national tragedy. 

Our knee jerk response to 9/11 led us into giving up freedoms Americans used to enjoy.
Our knee jerk response to Hurricane Katrina led to playing blame games instead of dealing with the real problems of infrastructure.
Our current knee jerk response to the Sandy Hill school shooting is filled with heated emotion and rhetoric.

I have even read reports citing lawmakers rushing to implement things "before the public has a chance to settle down and memories fade about the events."


When I hear such talk, I hear, "get stuff done while the emotions are running hot!" 

Would any sane person offer the same sort of suggestion to a grieving widow?   Not a chance.

Why is it that politicians and others want to spring into action immediately following a tragedy or something that causes immeasurable grief instead of being patient, allowing the hot emotions to run their course, and then thinking through that which should be done?  Why is it that something must be done now, now, NOW! 

I have been blessed with a congregation full of people who take time to work through things.  Several ideas we have considered  one month at a meeting were quickly disregarded the following month as thought was given.  What seemed like a good idea one week was put down two months later as it was given consideration before voting.  Even in deciding to hire new staff, our congregation took months to deliberate it.  Generally, this has led to wise decisions that were in the best interest of the whole.  Not everyone agreed, but taking time to deliberate, to think, and to wade through makes all the difference in the world.

Is it too much to ask for such patience when addressing complicated issues?

1 comment:

Kathy said...

We waited after Columbine.
We waited after Aurora.
We waited while the Black neighborhoods in Chicago were decimated.
We were starting to wait after Jovan Belcher.

Then Newtown.

The waiting is over.