As a result of the recent tragic flooding in our city and province this past week (in addition to a incident involving a train on a bridge that brought traffic to a halt) and having had several conversations with people affected and not affected, I am eagerly waiting to see what the resulting effect is on both people and their surroundings. A good friend of mine had a home that is now underwater and his family is temporarily displaced. He shared with me how frustrated he was with his lack of control over the situation and his inability to understand what happens next. As we talked through his situation we were able to come up with short term fixes (i.e. calling his bank and asking for a reprieve on some mortgage payments so that he could rent a home for him and his family without having two housing payments) and some decisions he could make that would give him some traction. Losing a home and possessions are one thing but losing your environment and control over your circumstances is another. He of course is relieved that his family (wife and 4 young kids) is safe but can’t resist the helpless feelings he has about how to lead his family through this moment of their lives.
I remember many conversations with similar themes that I had with borrowers who either had mortgages or loans during the last economic down turn when credit markets had frozen and people were unsure of how they were going to meet their obligations and not lose everything. I am not trying to compare flooding with economic turbulence nor diminish the seriousness of what my friend (and many others) is going through but I think there are parallels of how people can be resilient and how they move forward in the face of uncertainty.
Many times we focus on the things that we cannot change and it can be very difficult to find silver lining or to find any hope whatsoever. When faced with dramatic events that have a paralyzing effect we need time to process. We need to give ourselves room to feel and react and then we need to look around at those that can help and ask for help. Not a hand out but a hand up. In my line of business that usually means using my experiences and knowledge to help sort through financial details and options. Our fear of the unknown can produce hopelessness and when faced with the unknown the best thing a person can do is look to others who do not have the same fear and ask for their help. Many times problems can seem larger in our minds than what they really are. Talking out loud can help us articulate our fears and if done with people who care often times solutions or options are easy to discover and take action on.
My friend will need a friend in the coming months to give him space to be frustrated and to encourage him to keep moving forward. I look forward to being that friend.