If you were to go through a life-altering event, who would you have in your inner circle to help you cope and navigate your new normal?

When my daughter Laurel and I decided to write our book, Keep Looking Up, we wanted to dedicate a section to this topic because it’s not something that people often plan for. And since we had endured the unimaginable twice, we knew this was a subject that would be helpful to many.

We had learned the hard way after losing my husband the importance of mustering your “super-safe people” around you. So when we lost my son, we had a better plan for how to handle things.

When a tragedy takes place, obviously, the first thing that happens is everybody wants to rush to you and get around you as fast as they can.

That is lovely and the intentions are wonderful, and we felt and appreciated that so much.

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But at the same time as that’s happening, you’re reeling from shock. You’re having to deal with those emotions. And then, you end up having to see other people dealing with those emotions over and over right in front of you. It sets you on an emotional rollercoaster that’s unending.

What’s more, the people who are coming at you to try and help are likely doing the things that they would want…things which aren’t necessarily what you want in a time like that.

Sometimes people – not knowing what to say, especially in the situation of a suicide – say something that they don’t realize may be inappropriate, either in timing or topic. 

So we quickly learned that we had to start placing healthy boundaries around ourselves. This allowed us self-care, but also ensured that we kept healthy relationships with those people.

While some people want to hug it out, cry it out, be together constantly, Laurel and I generally love that, but at those most difficult times, we needed our space too.

Conley Family Photo

This valuable lesson helped us make it through my son’s memorial just three years after my husband’s memorial. We knew to put a select group of people in what we called our “super-safe people” category.

These are the people that understood how Laurel and I managed emotion. These friends knew how to handle us, how to communicate with everyone else what had happened, and what we were needing at that time.

Our “super-safe people” understood our boundaries and how to help us through.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t plan ahead for something like this. So I challenge you to ask yourself, ‘if something happened to me, who would those people be?’

My goal is for you NOT to have to experience an event like this the way we did. It’s to make sure that when any big shifts happen in your life, you already know who those super-safe people are going to be. Because in the moment, you’re only getting by minute to minute.

It’s good to have these discussions now while we’re quarantining. Since we’re only able to be in small groups right now, you’re probably figuring out who those super-safe people might be.

If broaching the subject seems a bit difficult for you, here’s my suggestion: ask yourself, If I ever go through something, how would I want to handle it? Would I want to be surrounded by people or would I need some time alone? If I might need someone to act as a buffer for me, who would I choose? Then reach out to those people and have a quick discussion. 

I’m not saying it’s going to be a fun conversation, but the reality of life is that stuff is going to happen. So the better we can be prepared, the better things will go.

Vision is Victory,

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