How to ask for help in a crisis
Whether you’ve suffered trauma, death in the family or have been displaced from your home due to fire, flood or other environmental damage, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Seeking help is difficult, especially when you’re overwhelmed, but if ever was a time to reach out, it’s now.
Word often spreads like wildfire in the wake of a tragedy. You might become bombarded with phone calls, e-mails and Facebook posts from friends, family, and acquaintances who wish you well, or say, “let me know if I/we can help!”
While some of these folks may, indeed, be paying lip service, you’d be surprised how many people—even strangers—would step up if they knew exactly how they could help, or if they were assigned something to do. You, being in the midst of a crisis, hardly know where to start in sorting through the messages, let alone responding to them.
Choose a trusted friend or relatives to become the “liaison” for your family. He or she can keep people updated as appropriate, and reach out to your personal network to request help in clearly defined terms. Let your liaison know the specifics of your needs so she can coordinate meals, clothing, transportation or donations. Do you need someone to temporarily house your pets while you wait for smoke or water damage repair after a house fire? Do you need someone to sit at the hospital with an injured child while you spend time with his siblings? A liaison can coordinate schedules, follow up with offers of help and support and take the awkwardness out of the “ask”.
What to Ask Your Insurance Agent
Hopefully, you’ll have access to a copy of your insurance policy, but on the best of days, the fine print is difficult to understand. When you’re dealing with a crisis, you’ll want to get in touch with your insurance agent to go over your coverage to confirm your benefits. You’ll also want to find out if your insurance will expedite assistance with your immediate needs.
- Does your homeowner policy cover hotel costs if your residence is unsafe for occupancy? For how long?
- If your home was the scene of a trauma, whether or not you were the victim of a crime, does your insurance cover biohazard remediation and damage repair services?
- How long do you have before you can file a mold abatement claim after water damage?
- Are you eligible for immediate funds for lost clothing, food and prescriptions if they’re lost in a flood or fire?
- Does your health plan cover counseling or psychotherapy treatment following trauma?
Be sure your agent gives you explicit instructions for recording and reporting your losses, and make detailed, dated notes of all your insurance, emergency services and public health and safety interactions. If you have an attorney, you may wish to ask him to act as your agent in these matters, especially if you’re recovering from shock, injury or grief.
Municipal and Community Resources
If you can’t rely on family or social networks to help you through your crisis, you may have other options. Many government bodies maintain or endorse victim’s assistance programs on the state, county or city level, to help cover costs incurred in the aftermath of a crime and connect crime survivors to appropriate outreach resources.
The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army offer assistance to those displaced by fire, flood and severe weather, operating chapters in most major cities. Help may include vouchers for a few days in a motel, credit at thrift stores for furniture, and clothing for family members.
Your religious organization may operate outreach programs to congregation members, from fundraising to clothing drives to housing.
Seek emotional support
If you’re not comfortable asking for grants or emergency funds from your church, club, team or fraternal organization, or if you don’t qualify to receive aid from government or civic sources, you may find comfort in fellowship within your community. Some friends may have a difficult time “holding space,” not knowing what to say or do to put you at ease. It’s okay to tell them if you need distraction, a shoulder to cry on or just someone to sit with you. Ask them to be patient with you, and honor their efforts by providing them with the same.
Were you or your family members witnesses to a traumatic event? In the weeks following, it’s normal to experience erratic emotions as part of the healing process. Should the symptoms continue for more than a few weeks, you may have developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Counseling or psychotherapy can help. The National Institute of Mental Health provides helpful information on PTSD symptoms and treatment for children and adults.
About Bio Recovery
Bio Recovery provides a fast, discreet and affordable disaster recovery service that allows you and your family to entrust the difficult task of cleaning up and repairing a home, place of business or vehicle after damage incurred after a fire, flood or trauma. We’re here for you when you need us most. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to step in and handle the aftermath of your crisis so you can move forward in the healing process.