When Life Gets “In The Way” …


Michael and Friend - 2015Status Report:  As some of you may know, my grandson Michael suffered a brain aneurysm on Tuesday morning resulting in treatment in three hospitals, one 5-6 hour surgery on Tuesday night, and intensive medical care, which is ongoing as we speak.  For details, please see my Facebook stream, but the bottom line is that he is doing much better than originally expected, but faces a long recovery.

BTW, Michael is the one in the blue striped shirt in the picture:)

So this is why I have been less active (in some ways) online than usual this week.  As is my wont, now that I have a small bit of breathing room, I want to share some observations around the past few days.  Some of these are in the “Gee, Duh” category, but indulge me.

FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND ALL THE REST …

In a time of crisis, we need to move fast and focus.  Things that seemed important at the breakfast table vanish or shrink in an instant.

The closer we are to the crisis, the more we need to be able to focus on what is happening and devote our energy toward it.  We have a large family and an even larger circle of friends, coworkers, colleagues, and acquaintances, who all shifted gears to help us in ways both large and small to do this.

Everyone once in a while, I read something like Don’t ask what you can do to help.  Look around and do what needs to be done.

While I realize it is well-meaning, I disagree a bit with this advice and here’s why:  

What you think needs doing may or may not be what the other really needs done.   Moreover, you may or may not do it in a way that actually helps them.

Asking the person what you can do and extending that offer into the future is helpful and respectful of them.   We humans have a bad habit of assuming that what we individually value, believe, and desire is what everyone else values, believes, and desires … just ask, rather than assume.

Another thought:  Help and attention tends to “pile on” at and immediately after the time of crisis.  

As time passes, life resumes for everyone, but the urgency of the drive to help tends to diminish.  Think long-term and plan to spread your help out over weeks or even months, depending on what is needed.

Bless those who are willing to do whatever is needed to allow those closest to the issue to do that, by providing attention to siblings, meals for the family, prayers, cards, videos, and expressions of caring.

SOCIAL MEDIA …

Social media is often derided as a distraction, a time waster, and a misuse of our energy.

It can be all these things, but that says more about our choices than the medium.  When you need emotional support and need to let far-flung friends and family to know what is happening as it happens, I know of nothing else that can do this as quick and as easy.  How else can you create a global prayer circle in a matter of a few hours?

I realize that nothing replaces face-to-face and that a phone call is better than a text, a text is better than a status update, and all that.  

What I also realize is that when something impacting happens, it’s not always about everyone else, but about those closest to the impact letting other people know, without taking precious time and energy away from dealing with the issue.

HEALTHCARE AND CAREGIVERS …

We have serious problems with the healthcare and health insurance industries in our country, which will require serious action and important decisions as soon as possible.

However, we are also blessed with doctors, nurses, and support staff who labor in incredibly high-stress environments, day in and day out, because they care about other human beings.   If you want a great example, check out both St. Louis Childrens’ Hospital and BJC, Inc.  I have nothing but praise for the services provided by these institutions.

CODA …

I do not share the above to boast that “My family and my circle of influence is strong“, but to remind everyone that this is what being fully human feels like.  We share the good and the bad, both physically and emotionally, and are connected by our sharing and our support of each other.

Visiting a pediatrics hospital fairly often over the past few days has powerfully reminded me that many other families are dealing with crisis, both immediate and long-term, around the health of their children.

My family is the most important collection of people on this planet, but if I am not willing to help and support others as I do them, I am missing the full point of being humans sharing this planet.

Not everyone you know or meet enjoys support or resources on which to rely … look around for those who have few to help them or are alone.  

Become their resource.

Now, as much as possible given the ongoing situation and family needs, it’s back to business as “usual”.   Blog posts will be coming about David Burkus’s rousing new book Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business As Usual, and about the thinking behind the second issue of CTDO (Chief Talent Development Officer) magazine, a strong addition to the resources available through ATD (Association for Talent Development) to those who guide talent development and training activities for organizations, along with a few other posts which have been percolating for a bit.

… but probably not before next week:).

Feeling extremely blessed and grateful in the Heartland ….

John

 

 

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2 thoughts on “When Life Gets “In The Way” …

  1. Hi, Jane … thanks:)

    Yeah, SocMed can be a double-edged sword, so it seems. While you can get a message out quickly to many, getting that message out consistently is a whole other thing.

    At any rate, we are blessed to have such a strong support system. At this point, things seem to be going as well as we could hope for … of course, MIchael is an extraordinary kid, so what else could we expect:)?

    Appreciate our friendship …

    John

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  2. John, I can identify with everything you’ve said. I’ve gone through family trauma four times in the past 5 years and the support through social media has been my strongest ally next to the personal touch of people who live close enough to reach out. I have to discipline myself to avoid the magnetic force of social media, so while I see more benefits to SM than detriments, I still know the time suck it can be.

    I didn’t know about Michael, so thanks to Carrie Koens for sharing your post. Now I’m wondering why I didn’t know you were even posting regular blogs. I get your Goodreads posts but that’s all.

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