Teen Angst

Helping adolescents deal with anger and other emotions effectively

Second Chances in the Midst of a Crisis

How do you start over when you've lost everything?

Turn on any television news channel and odds are you'll see the disastrous effects of Hurricane Sandy all along the east coast.  I watched an interview with a woman whose home of forty years lay behind her in a pile of rubble.  When asked "what do you do now?"  Her reply was "I don't know..." A home that was once safe and secure, which held forty years of memories was now a heaping pile of tethered lumber.  Hurricane Sandy left more than a mess in the aftermath she left desperation and despair followed by an uncertainty of what the future holds.  It's shocking that one natural disaster has the power to wipe out, destroy, take away and change lives forever.

As I listened to her story unfold, I was left pondering many questions on life after a crisis.  Where do you begin?  How do you rebuild your life?  What lessons do you learn?  Then I remembered an experience I had just a couple of months ago while vacationing with my family in St. Augustine, FL.   It was an experience that made me think differently about new beginnings and starting over.  The story begins with a dog named Chance.  His story is one of hope in the midst of a crisis... 

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I woke up a little earlier than everyone else that morning.  Groggily I made my way to the coffee pot to make a fresh cup.  Looking out the window I saw a peaceful beach beckoning me to take a walk.  Pouring my cup of coffee, I threw on some comfortable clothes, laced up my sneakers, and headed to the beach.  "This is complete bliss," I thought.  There's something about the ocean that makes the rest of the world seem so small.

In the midst of the crashing waves, joggers passed me by, children scampered across the sand collecting seashells like they were golden coins, and people walked hand in hand enjoying natures contentment.  In a relaxed and blissful moment, I was shaken to reality by an overzealous golden retriever demanding my attention.  He was so excited and playful that I couldn't resist putting down my cup and petting him.  Looking up I saw a man approaching me with a smile on his face.  "Meet Chance, as you can see he's very friendly and loves people."  Thinking about the name, I replied "Chance, I like that name."  Feeling his damp fur, I said, "Feels like he's already taken a dip in the ocean."  To which the man replied, "Yeah, he likes to pretend he's saving me.  So, I wade into the ocean and he comes in and rescues me." 

With an inquisitive expression on my face, the gentleman proceeded to tell me Chance's life story.   You see, Chance was a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.  He was separated from his family during the storm and placed in a kennel for adoption.  Fortunately, he was one of the lucky ones and found a loving family to take him in.  Who knows what his name used to be, whether his owner survived the storm, or whether the house he once lived in still stands.  But this dog deserved a second chance - hence his name.  Chance had seen and been through a lot. Unfortunately, no one will ever know the story from his perspective, but his story does relate to that of many humans.  When disaster hits we need one another.  We need to show and exhibit compassion to our fellow neighbors.  We all need to have another chance. 

Then I thought about how Chance liked to rescue people who would go into the water.  Was that because of something he experienced during Hurricane Katrina?  Maybe now Chance rescues others just like someone rescued him. 

Chance's story reminded me of how much we need each other.  It's important for us to reach out to others in times of need because we may be someone's second chance.  Chances are opportunities that change lives.   Opportunities hide in the midst of a crisis, but they exist. Sometimes, it takes something as powerful as a natural disaster to shake us out of our comfort zone and push us to re-invent and re-build ourselves.  Don't let fear keep you from taking a chance.  For a chance can change a life. 

If you would like to provide someone with a second chance, please contribute to Sandy relief efforts by clicking on any of the links below.

  • Red Cross

http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy to make a donation, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 instantly.

  • United Way

http://www.unitedway.org/blog/entry/united-way-hurricane-sandy-recovery-fund/

  • AmeriCares

http://www.americares.org/newsroom/news/hurricane-sandy-recovery-emergency-underway-1030.html.

If you know of other Hurricane Sandy relief funds please feel free to add them in the comment section with a link to the site.

To all of those affected by Sandy, may you find peace, solace and strength as you re-build.

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., L.P.C., is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens.

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