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Disaster Recovery: How To Survive When You've Lost Everything
The recovery process will last long after the world turns its attention elsewhere.
How survivors move forward and heal is addressed in a book by author and psychologist Dr. Noelle Nelson. Phoenix Rising - Surviving Catastrophic Loss: Fires, Floods, Hurricanes and Tornadoes (Amazon) explores the trauma of losing a lifetime of possessions in an instant, how to survive the immediate aftermath and how to find the strength to start anew.
"The idea that your life before the disaster no longer exists takes time to accept," says Nelson, who lost her home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire in southern California. "There is a huge sense of hopelessness and despair."
Nelson offers these suggestions:
--Identify your "anchors." These are your close family and friends that you can rely on. They probably can think clearer than you after your loss. If they offer a room at their home, take it. If they want to help you shop for the essentials you no longer have—let them. Anchors are also such things as work, school and outside interests. Try to continue to do as many "normal" things as possible when everything else is not normal.
--Accept the kindness of strangers. In a world where we're always cautious of scammers, there are still lots of caring individuals who want to help after a disaster. Volunteers from the Red Cross and local charities are there to offer services to help you file insurance claims, find housing and provide clothing and basic necessities. Accept their help. The kindness of strangers will not only help you get back on your feet faster but improve your emotional healing.
--Take a deep breath. You'll feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry and frustrated once the reality of your new life sinks in. That's expected. Attend local support group meetings with others experiencing what you are going through. These groups can be a good source of information, friendship and comfort.
"Survivor-type books can offer advice to get you through the first few days of a disaster," says Nelson. "But they offer little in telling you how to survive the weeks, months and even years that follow. Phoenix Rising provides the support and long-term guidance needed to come away from the disaster more resilient than before."
Phoenix Rising (https://www.amazon.com/