To facilitate recovery from crises, time to heal is needed, as are experiences with empathetic care. It is important that young people secure around them those familiar with a particular crisis and/or the emotions experienced with crises (such as specialized support groups) and to establish positive, healthy routines. Often faith-based groups and/or faith-based institutions can provide young people in crisis with a sense of security, belonging, and centeredness.
When such measures do not bring adequate adjustment, professional support should be considered. It is not unusual for those who experience crises to engage in counseling by specialists who understand such difficulties. These professionals are trained to provide constructive recommendations addressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that may seem impossible to manage. Pastoral counseling is often useful when young people are faced with crises, particularly when they face a crisis of identity with their own religion and God.
In the face of tragedy, many of us ask, "Can this tragedy also happen to me?" The foundations of our daily lives are shaken. Children need to feel secure; adults need to recognize how their own anxiety can challenge the child's sense of safety. In times of crisis, the notion of human fragility is dramatically amplified. Managing the struggle between opposing forces such as safety and vulnerability is one of life's basic challenges. Faith mediates the coexistence of such opposing forces, allowing a person peace of mind in the face of frightening events. Developing a connection with a spiritual reality provides the framework through which the meaning of such events can be understood and to which a response can be developed. For example, family prayer may literally bring home the resources of our spiritual connection as the family joins together in one mind, connected in their beliefs despite the crisis. Catastrophic events give rise to the opportunity to discuss both the ability and inability to control life, and to understand how spirituality and a relationship with God can provide comfort in the face of life's challenges.
Tragedy is often abrupt and sudden. At such times it is common to ask: What is life about? Who am I? Why am I here? These authentic moments provide the opportunity to find meaningful answers to existentialist questions. Authentic moments help one bring control to life, to make changes, and discover the purpose of existence. Very often one's relationship with and understanding of that which is divine and/or spiritual influences one's perspective about and reflections on the crises experienced.
On a more scientific note, research suggests that a negative event may be reframed as an opportunity for spiritual growth and may increase religious meaning. While religion may have positive or negative effects, depending on how it factors into a crisis, positive interpretations bring both hope and a sense of control-a strengthening of purpose. In this way, spirituality offers a positive mechanism for coping with crisis. Although crises often shatter one's sense of order and continuity, religion and spirituality provide clarification about direction, meaning, and purpose- stabilizing one's perceived place in the world. Faith and spirituality reveal how suffering and evil can be transformed through the Spirit-inviting one into personal transformation. Crises often lead to mourning of losses, but they can also serve as a reminder to be thankful for the many blessings received. In this way, crises invite self-examination. Through difficult trials, clarity about purpose in life often arises.
In the final analysis, responding to traumatic events confirms, yet again, the intangible resources on which people rely-the essential values of religion, faith, and trust in God. This faith gives direction to life-not only in the sense of a life struggling to survive but also a life demonstrating value and purpose.