Managing A Family Crisis

By: James P. Krehbiel

I believe that a family crisis has a way of either bringing family members closer together or fragmenting relationships. There appears to be no middle ground. When a loved one is ill or dies, do the children and relatives rally around each other, or do they hold grudges, fight and feud?

Emotional intensity during a family trauma can open up wounds experienced by those involved. All of the unresolved family baggage has a way of reappearing and rears its ugly head. The added stress of grief and loss can create reactivity that makes it difficult for caretakers to communicate effectively with one another.

Instead of working in harmony during a stressful crisis, the family may engage in disputes over medical treatment, medical decisions, issues of control over caretaking, financial implications, and the manner of managing grief and loss. Being at odds with one another during a period of crisis only compounds the magnitude of the problem.

Family members need to learn to set their differences aside for the well-being of all concerned. Difficult family stressors are painful enough without events being exacerbated by caretakers who choose to let their resentments affect their decision-making and support.

These suggestions may help guide you during your time of crisis, grief and loss:

Maintaining harmony during a family crisis is difficult. However, family members who work together as a team can support and help everyone navigate difficult times.

James P. Krehbiel is an author, contributing writer for, and a cognitive-behavioral therapist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. He can be reached at

Article Comments: Leave Comment

Other Articles In: Stress and Trauma