Family members are often perceived by the roles they play; “oh, you know Tim, he never plans ahead” or “Susan has to always be in control”. It is assumed that when faced with a crisis these people will fall into similar roles but quite often this is not the case. The normally flighty brother might suddenly become steadfast. The controlling sister might become the compassionate ear that everybody needs. All people react to a crisis in a unique way and not always the way we would assume. 

The Denier

This person is optimistic and confident even in the face of opposing facts. They might not want to hear details or may play down the seriousness of the situation. While this person’s blissful ignorance might frustrate some, it is a valid survival technique. In the face of overwhelming emotions sometimes the best solution is to deny that they exist. Forcing a Denier to face facts in the middle of a crisis will not help anybody. Best to let this person receive the information at the pace that they feel capable of handling and no more. 

The Organizer

This person jumps into action after the first sound of alarm. They are the first to arrive at the hospital, talk with the doctors, organize hotel rooms, transportation and meals. They find comfort in action and knowing that they are doing something – anything. This desire to “do” provides a feeling of control during a time when things might feel out of control. Since most medical staff prefer dealing with one family member, let it be the Organizer. Keep in mind that if the crisis lingers this person’s ability to “keep it together” will eventually peter out. Be on the look-out for the crash and burn. 

The Informer

This person seeks information. They have hundreds of questions that need to be answered and after those are answered they have a hundred more. They are researching medical journals and scouring the internet, anything they can get their hands on that might provide them with a greater understanding of the crisis that is before them. They are the ones who will research alternative treatments, find second opinions, read lab results and mire themselves in the technical aspects of the crisis at hand. Similar to The Organizer, this person seeks control and knowledge fulfills that need. 

The Cheerleader

No team would be a team without the Cheerleader. This person is fast with a joke or a smile. They are the ones that allow the tears. They are willing to listen to the Denier but also the Organizer and Informer. They listen, give hugs, a comforting word, and let everybody know that a family is first a group of people who love each other. They bring the meals, bake the cookies, and provide the moral and levity the entire group needs. 

None of these roles are singular and in fact one person might fulfill more than one. Organizers are frequently Informers. Cheerleaders can also be Deniers. Most families will find themselves split into some variation of these roles or changing roles depending on the length of the crisis. What takes most families by surprise is that there is no way to predict who will react in what fashion until the crisis happens. Who will shut down emotionally and who will step up and take charge? A family that can quickly identify and respect the limitations of each person will successfully navigate the crisis at hand. This is not a time for pride or to even try to mimic professional roles in a personal crisis. This is a time to step back, not judge and allow each person the freedom to fulfill the role that is most comfortable.

REGENERATION has been helping families navigate crisis for more than 26 years. Whether financial, professional, familial or personal, we can help you find the path to calm, to answers, to the next right step. We help families have the challenging conversations before a crisis occurs, before emotion or roles take over or decisions are forced. We help families find peace of mind related to their families and business. 

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