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I was recently asked in an interview if I could go back in time what would I tell myself regarding Lamp when I first found out about her disabilities? My answer was that I wouldn't say anything, as I believe that sometimes you just need to let the events of life unfold and go through the natural process of reaction. There was no ‘right’ or ‘better way’ to respond to the news of finding out our daughter was going to have special needs, than how we actually responded. Some things in life you can't prepare for and finding out you're going to have a child with special needs is one of those things. You can't prepare for the shock, grief or fear, but you also can't prepare for the love that will eventually give you the strength to rise above, endure and embrace this new life.
Can you ever really emotionally prepare for any hardship in life? No. And in fact I wouldn't recommend it because trying to prepare emotionally for hardship is called worrying. As a worry addict let me tell you that this is actually a terrible plan. The things that I've worried the most about haven't actually happened. And if they were to happen I've realized that worrying doesn't actually prepare you. How you think you'll react and how you actually react in any given situation are two different things. Author Gavin de Becker says, "In the original form of the word, to worry someone else was to harass, strangle, or choke them. Likewise, to worry oneself is a form of self-harassment…Worry is the fear we manufacture--it is not authentic."
If there is a way to emotionally prepare for life's hardships it lies in the practice of gratitude. Worry will deplete your energy, it will take without actually giving anything in return. Gratitude on the other hand will serve you well all your days, even in the midst of life-altering sorrow. Gratitude doesn't take away our problems—hopefully we all know by now that part of life, even a good life, is having problems—but gratitude will certainly help you to navigate those problems in the most productive and meaningful way possible.
No, worry is not preparation. Preparation is preparation.
Health insurance, car insurance, life insurance are all part of preparation that is actually productive. Just like gratitude, having insurance won't take away your problems but it will certainly help you navigate the problems you have in the best way possible. While conversations about life insurance aren’t easy and can certainly spur on some worries, they are really important conversations to have. And in fact having these conversations, i.e. preparation, will alleviate worries in the long run. If you've ever had your car totaled you know that once you get over the initial shock at some point you think, at least I have insurance. And while I've never been through the death of a spouse I imagine the response would be similar. Either way one would experience loss, but at least I have insurance. Thankfully, this is one thing I don't worry about.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on worry vs. preparation. Are you a worrier? If so are you trying to stop? Also, have you ever learned an important lesson from an unexpected life event? Feel free to share your story on social media with #PlanRealistically or #WontHappenToMe.