What has Jennifer learned through her crisis event?

Vicarious Resiliency after a House Fire

Two years ago, Jennifer and her husband, Ryan, lost their house in a fire. They were able to escape with their two children and the family dog without harm, but the family lost everything in the fire. Jennifer worked through this crisis with Ann, her counselor until 6 months ago, when she moved into a new home in another city. She has come back in to see Ann for a follow-up appointment.

Ann: It’s so good to see you, Jennifer. I appreciated you e-mailing me the pictures of your lovely new house. It’s been a long journey

Jennifer: Yes, I appreciate you being there for me through this. So much of what we worked on has helped me cope. I see things differently now.

Ann: How so?

Jennifer: Well . . . life, life is what really matters. I mean, at first I was in shock and I couldn’t believe it. I questioned God, I had so many mixed emotions.

Ann: Yes, I remember how difficult it was for you to accept and cope with this tragedy at first. But I also remember your courage in seeing things through, not only in the nuts and bolts details of insurance and moving, but also in your resolve to face feelings and place this event into your life story as a challenge met and an opportunity to learn and grow.

Jennifer: I guess that’s what I want to focus on today with you. I’m different because of the fire. Of course, I wish it hadn’t happened, but I believe I’m a better person because of it and I wouldn’t want to trade that growth and knowledge about what I can accomplish and also about what really matters.

Ann: The fire helped you discover the resiliency you had within you all along.

Jennifer: Yes, I appreciate my husband and children more. I know that life, relationships, and loved ones are what really matter. I don’t care about material things anymore. I no longer mourn the possessions I lost in the fire because I know the emotions connected to them were because of the people they reminded me of. A fire can never take away my memories of my grandmother and mother. The memories are real. The antiques were things that can be replaced, but I haven’t lost my memories. I feel very free and joyful. I appreciate every day and every person in my life.

Ann: You’re living life with more awareness of love and relationships. How wonderful to fully realize the depth and importance of the people in your life.

Jennifer: I think back to how I was before the fire, I was so distracted and busy and I often took my family for granted. Now I’m thankful every day for life and the people I love.

Discussion Questions

1. What has Jennifer learned through her crisis event?

2. What might the counselor learn from Jennifer’s story?

3. How do stories like Jennifer’s foster vicarious resiliency?

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