Because of the emotional instability of the teen years, it’s not unusual for a teen to go through a crisis where his or her life is in danger. This can be caused by a suicide attempt, a car accident, a drug overdose, or many others. Situations also happen that are outside of the teen’s control.
After parenting teens for years, what is written below is a composite from several of our most difficult experiences.
These words are an honest reflection of my feelings on that day and not intended for young children to read. As a youth worker, you will likely walk with a family through a time like this. Use this article to get a perspective of what a parent goes through. You can also share it with parents who are going through a crisis like this.
A Mother’s Perspective
When I get the news one of my teens had a life-threatening crisis, my first reaction is one of ridiculous selfishness.
I am mad that my day’s plans are ruined. Heck, my whole week probably. (My whole life?)
I am utterly, absolutely crazy mad. Strings of swear words I normally don’t say just spew. I swear. I swear more. I text curse words to my husband. I bang things around. I am fed up and anger pours forth.
We have given this child absolutely everything. Every opportunity. Every chance. Every possible coping strategy. No, of course our family isn’t perfect. We have our stuff. But this kid has a good life. Seriously good. What is so bad about our life to resort to THIS. THIS?! Come on!
Our child wanted to get our attention — and got it. Seriously got it.
Then, I feel the fear. The OH.MY.WHAT.COULD.HAVE.HAPPENED. fear. It comes crashing in very very very fast. It sinks down deep into the heaving pit of my stomach, hard and rock solid fast.
Lightening quick, it’s gone again.
The anger returns, sweeping up fast, and together with it a new, aching dark void.
The aching is — I don’t want this. Please, please make this problem go away. Can this day go away? Is there a way to somehow change this?
There is no changing this.
Now we must go and do nightmarish, hellish things I seriously do not want to do. My mind sorts through organizational, methodical carefully planned methods. Planning is my go-to. Surely I can right this wrong with enough tightly crafted intricate detailing.
It’s no use. I cannot organize this problem away.
We must go and deal. We must face doctors and hospitals and insurance and many decisions. And questions — oh the invasive question upon question that screams in our faces, “You suck at being parents!!!”
I want to stop these medical people. I want to hold them by the shoulders and say — “Wait! Look me in the eye. Look at us. We are different, you see. Can’t you tell?”
The professionals, they are…professional. They are not especially kind, not especially unkind. They are doing their jobs.
We are not different. We are no different from the hundreds of other families they see over the course of a month, a year. In between meeting with us, we hear them chatting in the hall about vacation plans and who gets the next lunch break, as our world breaks to pieces.
How dare they seriously even.
I want to be different. What is different? I think of families that sit around drinking massive quantities of beer, watching porn in the children’s presence. Aren’t those the types of families that have these problems?
Aren’t teens from troubled families the ones that go to these near-miss extremes? Not ones like ours. Not ones like mine.
Yet here we are. Here I am.
Reality comes in pieces. The first punch hits later while I’m in the shower. I hold onto the wall as huge gulping sobs overtake my whole body.
Today could have been so different. Why was I so angry?
There are parents who experience such a different day — a totally, completely different day.
We could have been planning a funeral today.
Oh my great God in heaven, we could have been planning a funeral today. How do you even plan such a funeral? Who would have done the service? STOP. Don’t think it. Don’t even let your mind think such things.
Sweet Jesus, forgive me for my anger. Be with those parents. Comfort them in their grief. Forgive me. Thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for forgiveness.
Whatever we have to work on, we will do it. We will work through it. We will support. We will comfort. We will encourage. We are all here. We are safe.
We are alive.Today could have been a totally different day. Click To Tweet
Today could have been a totally different day.
Steps to Take When Your Teen Goes Through a Life-Threatening Crisis
- Get through today. When you are in the middle of a crisis, the temptation is to allow your mind to fly into next week, next month and next year. Don’t. God is already there. You are here, today. Do what needs to be done today.
- Take care of you. You think you don’t have time, or it’s low on the list of priorities, but this is not true. Eat. Rest. Care for your other children and spend time with your spouse. Crisis says everything has to be done instantly, but rarely is that true. Pray. Seek God’s guidance and comfort.
- Find help. Your role as a parent might shift to advocate, manager and insurance expert. Reach out for guidance and support.
- Know you are not alone. You might feel like you are the only parent who has been through a situation like this. You may be overwhelmed with guilt. Trust me, you aren’t. Reach out to your pastor, DCE or others who have worked with teens. Look for an online or in-person support group.
- Trust that God has a plan. God has a plan for this situation. You might see the good that comes, or you might not know in this lifetime, but you can trust that God is in control. You can trust in His love, and you can trust in His forgiveness and grace.
Always seek the help of your doctor or a trained mental health professional. This website is not giving nor is it a substitute for medical advice. If you feel you might harm yourself or others, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Help is always available at The National Suicide Prevention Line. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.