Grief and Crisis Decisions
During a stressful period or disaster, the decision-making process can be greatly affected by our emotional responses to loss and grief. During this difficult time, a lot of decisions may have to be made. Be aware of the grief stages and their effect on decision-making. The following is Elizabeth Kubler Ross' model of grief stages, with comments on our ability to make decisions during each stage. It includes the research of Dr. Sharon Danes (University of Minnesota) about the effect of the grief states on decision making abilities.
- Stage 1: Shock and denial. It is common for people to avoid making decisions or taking action at this point.
- Stage 2: Anger. Making decisions at this point is difficult because all one's energy gets put into the emotion rather than problem solving.
- Stage 3: Depression and detachment. Because it's hard to make decisions at this stage, consider asking a family member, friend, or professional for help if important decisions need to be made.
- Stage 4: Dialogue and bargaining. People become more willing to explore alternatives after expressing their feelings.
- Stage 5: Acceptance. Decisions are much easier to make because people have found new purpose and meaning as they have begun to accept the loss.
Emotions tend to be strong after a disaster. Know that this is normal. Because emotions run strong during these times, you will have to be aware that you might have to regulate them.
Regulating emotions means, for example, that if anger is just bubbling below the surface and you feel it will explode any moment like lava from a volcano, you may have to find a place where you can run it off or express it in another safe way. That way you won't yell at your children when it is not deserved and confuse them.
Remember, if ever it is important to ask for help it is after a disaster or major crisis. That request for help can be in the form of monetary help or sharing your feelings of anger or anxiety with others who will understand.
Get additional help by consulting the other resources found on the Flood Recovery site. For more information contact your health care provider.
Danes, S.M., & Stumme, P. (2001). Adjusting to Suddenly Reduced Income.