The second survival – How to go on after the crisis is over

I answered the insistent knocking of the sun and opened my den window today. 

The fickle prairie weather has shifted again, from a wind chill that can destroy flesh in minutes to sun warmed air, melting snow and the “soon but not yet” promise of Spring. 

The one constant about weather and life is: change.

We practice preparedness as a way to cope with change in our circumstance, regardless of how or when that change may come. 

Everything can change in a heartbeat. It could be natural or man-made. It could affect our home or our global home.

There is an aftermath to a crisis, be it personal or large scale. It is a time when we assess the damage sustained during the crisis, grieve our loss, and find a way to go on.

I have never discussed how to go on after the crisis is over with anyone who preps. 

Instead of a scenario, I would like to offer this subject in the context of lessons learned from personal experience. And yes, there is probably going to be a grandmother story in here somewhere. 

I believe the following example is timely, given the issues of post viral complications from Covid-19.

It illustrates that we can’t pick the timing for when difficult life events happen.

I was rebuilding my life and assets when I contracted what I thought was a flu virus in the early 2000’s. It wasn’t typical and left me with long term health effects. It was like suddenly becoming brain injured. It affected my ability to walk, read, and think, among other symptoms, and delivered it all with a substantial amount of pain.

My doctor and specialists had theories, but no one could tell me what was wrong. There was a diagnosis for fibromyalgia and a theory that maybe I had Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, but nothing beyond that. 

My doctor told me that I could no longer work. The trap door opened and the bottom fell out of my world. 

Regardless of diagnosis or the lack of one, I still had to learn how to live with the symptoms.

I learned that life isn’t like an episode of House. There isn’t always a diagnosis or a cure. The crisis, in this case a health crisis, was technically over. I had to find a way to go on.I assessed the situation:

I had no preps because during the pack and run move from my ex, there had been no time to get them out. Finances were depleted helping my Mom and Aunt. There was a property boom and rents were rising. I now had a disabled fiance and my Mom who were depending on me.

We had to move, back across Canada where the cost of living was lower. I had to buy time until I could sort out my health and my life.

I identified the challenge of the health symptoms: The biggest challenge was pain. Pain exists to help protect us from harm. It is not a normal state to be pain free. If we work or exercise hard, our muscles may become sore and hurt – that is normal. 

The absence of pain is not normal and seeking a pain free state as part of chronic pain management is dangerous. It isn’t palliative pain which is managed differently. 

Pain medication is sometimes necessary for chronic pain, but it is wise to employ other non-medication techniques in conjunction with it.

There were non-medication pain management techniques that I began to employ: breathing, distraction and visualization. I realized the pain wasn’t killing me, so I could reduce the stress I felt about it. I had to learn to live with it and I did.

Then there was the grief. I had always been athletic and active. A 60-80 hour week was nothing for me. I was superwoman. And, then I wasn’t.

At my lowest point, I felt worthless. I focussed on my fiance and Mom. They needed me and I couldn’t give up.

I let myself feel the grief, the loss of the person I used to be. I told myself “it’s ok to cry.”

Then I told myself, it’s ok to accept who I am today.

This is a very condensed version of what happened. I went on to rebuild my life and achieve goals, including more physical recovery, than I thought possible during the crisis. I was blessed with the opportunity to serve my community again when I was asked to volunteer to teach other people to learn how to manage chronic conditions.

I learned how important my preps were when I couldn’t get them out. It was awful and very hard not to have anything in reserve when the crisis hit.

I learned that regardless of the disaster or crisis, whether it happens to you or society on a larger scale, you must journey your way through it. Keep going. Don’t give up. Just take one step at a time and one task at a time. 

Don’t borrow problems during the crisis. Stay focussed on what is actually happening and not on what hasn’t happened.

If you suffer loss, any kind of loss, allow yourself to grieve. You are not crazy. It is ok to feel sad or angry or any other emotion. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Talk to a trusted person or call a crisis line. If that isn’t possible, then journal your grief, draw it, howl at the moon or chop wood. Do whatever is healthy that helps you to externalize and work through your feelings. 

To understand the process of grief, I recommend the writing of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who is considered the pioneer in this field.

What about you? Have you thought about how to journey through the aftermath of a crisis or disaster? How can you prepare for that part of survival? What kind of coping strategies would you use?


  • Comments (27)

    • 6

      I have had two severe bouts with clinical depression in my adult life.  Almost didn’t survive them.  I’ve learned, there are emotional triggers which can set me up for another episode.  I now know to be observant of the things that start bothering me.  With Covid, my business has been harmed greatly as we print on product for events… and there ain’t been a lot of events lately.  This time around, whenever I found myself worrying about this or that, I have made a point to redirect my mind onto another topic.  It can be gardening, prepping, whatever.  Point is to not dwell on the negative.  That is my coping mechanism.  I can only think of one thing at a time.  It took some effort but now I can choose to block out the bad by thinking of something that gives me pleasure.

      • 8

        Hi Redneck – Clinical depression is very challenging condition to cope with. I am very glad you made it through those severe bouts.  

        People from the outside looking in, don’t always understand how much self-awareness and self-management it takes to manage chronic conditions.

        Someone once told a friend of mine who had clinical depression, “well you just take a pill – big deal”. It was a statement born of ignorance. That person had no idea what it means to get up every day and be vigilant for triggers or stressors that can activate the depression.

        It’s like telling someone with a cardiac condition to “just take a pill” and go build a barn.

        You have made an excellent point about recognizing what your emotional triggers are and to be observant of what bothers you.

        Redirection is a great way to throw the switch and get that train of thought going down a better track.

        I have also used “thought stopping” to stop negative thinking or unproductive rumination about stressful events. I taught myself to do it by visualizing a big stop sign springing up in front of me every time I caught an unwanted thought.

        I admit it was a bit jarring to learn this technique at first. My startle response was stretched a bit thin, but it ended up working quite well. (I mentally moved the stop sign back a bit which also helped).

        Yes, balance the unpleasant with the pleasurable. Gardening is my happy place. Sketching this years garden, selecting seeds and imagining what kind of new world I will discover in the coming years’ garden is my bliss.

        Prepping is also how I keep my mind and thoughts positive (and avoid that stop sign).

        Covid has caused so much harm to the economy. The businesses affected by the pandemic are often overlooked or under represented in the statistics.

        I apologize if this is a dumb question, but I was thinking about how some companies began making products related to items required for the pandemic.

        I think I understand what “print on product for events” means. Is it possible to print on products for items related to medical/pandemic rather than events?

        From your ideas and writing on this forum, if anyone can navigate these choppy Covid waters, I believe you can, Redneck.

        I’m not a gambling person, but if I were, my money would be on you to find a way through, over or under the obstacles created by the pandemic. If anyone can make lemonade when life gives you lemons, you can.

      • 7

        Our printing equipment is rather specialized, so it really couldn’t be switched to printing other items associated with the pandemic… even if I knew of such a market.  I’m weathering this crisis rather well.   I’m close to retirement, own my house & farmstead, and have paid enough into Social Security all my life to be able to live well enough, no matter what happens.

        Gardening happens to be my happy place.  This week I’ve been hoeing some of the garden & planting English peas & snow peas.  In my office I’ve started a flat of jujube seeds.  If those come up, I’ll graft them next spring.  Thinking of such things helps me greatly.

      • 3

        I can hardly wait until it’s warm enough here. We had a late spring last year and I lost seedlings, and had to replant.People here use cold frames made out of old windows. I am looking forward to a greenhouse but for now I have washed 4 Liter Milk Jugs to try this:  Milk Jug Greenhouse

        I checked out jujube trees – I didn’t know that the fruit had medicinal properties. A bonus – like sea buckthorn or other such plants/trees.

        Your account of gardening helps me (and others), too. We get to garden vicariously until our zones say “your turn”.

      • 3

        Great coping strategies -the power of positive thinking and action

      • 3

        I’m sorry that your business isn’t doing as well right now, and hope with the rollout of the vaccine, that we can be going back to a semi normal life here soon and things will pick up for you. That’s nice that you have a garden to put your energy and mind into. 

    • 5


      I’ve thought and taken the journey after both a crisis and disaster.  I might post something later on my current crisis especially as it relates to the pandemic.

      In above link, it’s advantageous for those not familiar with the psycholigical aspects to spend some surfing time. Some responders / soldiers / related in status as “victims” / “patients” of a crisis / disaster have a view different than SAMHSA in re caffine use and alcohol use – concenning coffee and beer (but not the whiskies, etc). Some mental health professionals say it’s OK for some beer and pizza during recoveries WHEN in a group setting.  The emphasis is not to have a six pak alone.

      As a tangent to this thread – and I might be out of order now – would love to see you and Bill of UK collaporate on something here re a draft obituary, last will and testament type of papers AND a decent photo for an obituary.

      • 4

        Hi Bob – Thank you for the above SAMHSA link. The information is excellent and should be a part of every prepper’s reading material. I agree that the time to surf is now and read/keep as much info as needed to shore up this part of prepping.

        The description of the phases is such a good way to help people to understand the dynamic of a crisis or disaster. I also am glad that children are included as they process things differently. It’s a heads up to prepper parents/grandparents to be aware of their sensibilities.

        Recent photos of all family members and companion animals should be on hand at all times. Friends who worked in law enforcement said it was so tough when people reported loved ones missing and the last photo they had was from so long ago. Children should have their photos updated annually.

        Self-medication is a pitfall of trauma and is a very leaky boat. You can float for awhile but eventually, the boat sinks. I made it to shore, but a few friends with PTSD drowned.

        I am open to collaboration. I had to write an obituary for myself at the beginning of my palliative care course.

        At the beginning of the course, our instructor told us that before we could help others, we had to understand our own feelings about death and dying. She told us that most people are “squeamish” about facing the subject and don’t want to think about wills or obituaries. My obituary was cheeky and had me checking out in my late ’80’s while riding a Harley. 

        We’re here if you want to share on your current crisis as it relates to the pandemic. 

      • 6

        Ubique, I’ve been a little busy helping 2 families work out funeral arrangements; includes getting their documents in some semblance of a pile, drafting up an obit and going through a couple of boot boxes looking for a somewhat recent photo of deceased.

        Fortunes are spent down here south of the St Lawrence on education and basic records management is like dealing with confetti at a ticker tape parade. 

        My current crisis is working through my private citizen status as a victim/patient of the pandemic as presented to us members of the public by the national health authorities concurrent with my preparations for my own “end times”. There are inherent conflicts to this.  

      • 3

        Hi Bob – 

        That’s a heavy task helping 2 families work out funeral arrangements. The paperwork is a lot to deal with, plus obit and going through boxeslooking for photos.

        I hear you on the basic records management and your analogy is spot on. It really isn’t that hard to organize and keep files orderly. Not everyone likes doing it, I guess.

        So, your last paragraph, I might be needing help to understand the full meaning. I’ll say what I think it means, and please correct me if am wrong.

        Current crisis is you are working as a private or unofficial citizen but are a victim/patient of the pandemic as well. You are preparing for your own “end times” which leads me to think you are palliative?

        So the crisis you are experiencing is helping others make arrangements and funeral planning, while feeling it is a bit too close for comfort considering your own palliative status? 

        Bob, if am wrong, please correct me and help me understand better.

      • 3

        Ubique, My personally-arranged palliative care requires efforts in an environment that much of the national quarantine (and economic restructuring) prohibit or interfere with. Working on ophthalmological/optical matters concurrent with hearing loss is defeated if staying at home and told to reply on web access for health care.

        Blends and transition from palliative to hospice care get max distortion when the national scene is near exclusive to a vaccination program.  

        I really don’t have a crisis; just a philosophical annoyance with what’s going on.  

      • 4

        Hi Bob, I sorry to hear how your needs have been affected that way. Our system here is a bit different.

        Web access for health care only goes so far, too. I get that one.

        The issue of fund reallocation is another point to consider. All funds diverted one way and overshadowing other issues. I understand the need for it, but I will be including that possibility in my prepping plans. 

      • 6

        Ubique, My personally-arranged palliative care requires efforts in an environment that much of the national quarantine (and economic restructuring) prohibit or interfere with. Working on ophthalmological/optical matters concurrent with hearing loss is defeated if staying at home and told to reply on web access for health care.

        Blends and transition from palliative to hospice care get max distortion when the national scene is near exclusive to a vaccination program.  

        I really don’t have a crisis; just a philosophical annoyance with what’s going on.  

      • 4

        @bob I liked the chart in that link you shared. It makes a lot of sense. What stage of the chart do you think we are in now with covid-19? I think we are in the beginning stage of reconstruction.phases-of-disaster-large

      • 5

        Jessica, agree; we’re in the beginning of the reconstruction phase.

    • 5

      Ubique, thank you for sharing some of your journey with us. Hard-won wisdom shines through your words. I may respond more fully later when I have a chance, but I’ll mention what came to mind when I first read your post.

      In another context, a colleague says, “I may not be able to make it better, but I don’t have to make it worse.” For me, that means not falling into unhealthy temptations to “escape” from the discomfort in the short run which inevitably lead to more discomfort in the long run.

      My other mantra these days, as I have been dealing with stress, is “Don’t make up a story.” That’s my shorthand for not spinning a narrative in my mind where I’m the victim of inept other people or unfair circumstances. It’s been especially helpful in relationship matters, where I use a version of your “Stop thought” technique to turn off the story that begins, “Isn’t that just like [insert name] — doing this, not doing that?”

      So I’d say emotional maturity and mental fortitude / a disciplined thought process are the best skills we can develop.

      • 5

        What are some ways that you’ve built up a mental fortitude? Does having a mantra seem to help? I try and repeat one in my head while doing yoga every day and that clears my mind and helps me focus on what I want. Today’s mantra during yoga was “I am strong, I am powerful.” I don’t think i’ll be taking on the world anytime soon, but I do feel like i’m standing a bit taller.

      • 5

        Jessica, What I rely on is a quote from President Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”   This quote was a preface to a chapter in a specialized USN survival manual.

        When reading your above post, what got my attention as the most important aspect and attribute – at least from my view – was  doing the yoga * every day *.  This daily routine is the persistence that works. 

      • 3

        Hi Seasons4, 

        The aftermath of a disaster or crisis is something for which we can prepare, just like a well stocked pantry.

        It is better to prepare before the crisis happens, when we are able to collect the resources to guide us and give thought to which coping strategies we will employ to work our way through it.

        You raise excellent points about stress management and how we can change our thinking. 

        I agree that prepping is very much about learning, practicing and developing new skills.

        Thank you very much for your insight.

      • 4

        Perhaps it is worth mentioning that fatalities and serious accidents resulting from clean up efforts following a hurricane, etc. typically are equal to the total rug up during the storm.

      • 4

        Great point; so true, Hikermor.

        Walking in contaminated flood waters without rubber boots, falling off roofs during makeshift repairs, the uprooted trees releasing the rodents living in the root systems,……..

      • 5

        hikermor and Bob – Excellent points. 

        One should also know how to deal safely with electrical hazards such as downed power lines. Or, if trapped in vehicle and a fire starts, how to safely exit a vehicle where there is risk of electrical hazard.

        Electrical Safety Basic Information

        Also, keep contaminated footwear and gloves out of the house. 

      • 8

        Ubique, just read through the Canadian OSHA link,  Good info.

        For us going out in the fields and waters, will add reminder to pay attention to weather when lifting upward some type of pole with a metal fitting; the automatic lightning attractor.  The pole can be a fiberglass tent pole tipped in metal or a kayak paddle. Newcomers must know about the umbrella.  

        I like the link’s mention of temporary overhead extension cords.  Got a supply of “S” hooks here to help accomplish this.

    • 2

      Hey Gideon – Would it be possible to do a new topic with credit to hikermor for raising the very important  issue of preventing injury, death, and how to cope with physical dangers of a disaster in the aftermath?

      This originally was more the emotional/psychological aspects, however, hikermor and Bob both have raised very important information regarding physical dangers and how to prevent injury or death. How to clear trees safely, electrical hazards, how to clean up an area in the aftermath safely, what kind of gear to have on hand, etc.

      I think it would make an awesome feature topic with credit to hikermor. If it doesn’t work for you, then no problem to share both sides on this topic. 

      Thanks very much.

      • 7

        I think that’s a great idea! You or hikermor are welcome to start a new thread. 

        Maybe have a title like: How to prevent injury or death while cleaning up after a disaster

        I’d love to see someone comment on how cleanup was after they went through a hurricane or tornado. Those are really horrible disasters with mass destruction. 

        Good call on separating the topics Ubique. 

      • 6

        Thanks, Gideon, 

        It would be nice if hikermor started the new thread as the credit is to him for raising this point initially. Bob also is well versed in this area.

        I agree about see comments on this topic. It is very important I think the input will be fantastic from those who have survived various events.

        I’m holding off posting a new thread until hikermor sees this message and confirms if willing to post the new thread and provide lead in to the topic.

        So, hey, hikermor or Bob, how about it? Gideon has a great title suggested. You both have great suggestions and knowledge.

      • 5

        Good grief – second paragraph should read: “I think the input will be fantastic from those who have survived various events”.

        This is what happens when distracted typists try to drag text around (lol).