Supporting Families in Crisis Workshop…Katie Wetherbee [Kidmin Conference 2014]

What Is a Crisis?

Radical chane of status in a person’s life. Unusual instability.

Important to determine the tipping point that makes a situation a crisis

Crisis: A time of danger, a time of opportunity

Death of a Spouse

Physical and emotional issues

  • Fight or slight
  • Shaking
  • Exhaustion
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression (numb or detached)
  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Job Loss
  • Often harder on the father
  • Identity issues
  • Children behavioral, emotional issues
  • Parental guilt
  • Denial
  • Anxiety
  • Out of control
  • Increase in parental impact
  • Educational impact
  • Change in roles in the family


  • Acting out
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Repeated grief process
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Divided Loyalty
  • Changed view of God
  • New overwhelming emotions

Medical Diagnosis

  • Survivor guilt


  • One parent will take on responsibilities of other parent
  • Children taking responsibilities of parent

One of the least helpful things we can say to someone in crisis is “It’s God’s Will.”

Common Reactions to Trauma and Grief

  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Trouble sleeping and feeling very weary
  • Pounding heart
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Feeling edgy
  • Sweating
  • Severe headache if thinking of event
  • Failure to engage in exercise, diet, safe sex, regular health care
  • Excess smoking, alcohol, drugs, food
  • Ongoing medical problems get worse


  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Despair
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

The Master’s Plan

  1. He spoke their language
  2. He hung out at their homes and “offices”
  3. He knew their names
  4. He told them to take a rest in a quiet place
  5. He stuck to a few basic rules
  6. He loved kids…ALL of them!

Don’t ever minimize what YOU bring to a family in crisis.

What are your gifts that you can share with a family in crisis?

Speaking Their Language

DO learn their language

  • How would you like for me to communicate about this with other children?
  • What words/phrases are you using with your own kids?
  • Please tell me your mother’s name…
  • What would you like me to know about this?


  • Tell them you know all about it
  • Question medical decisions/doctors
  • Tell them you know how they feel
  • Ask for “organ recitals” (figuring out how you got sick, so they don’t get sick)

Comforting Conversation

  • Don’t assume someone should “be over it”
  • Don’t assume you know how they feel
  • Don’t discourage them

Go to them and Help Create a “Quiet Place

  • Anticipate needs
  • Offer and DO
  • Provide respite
  • Don’t “drop in”


  • Care Pages
  • Carring Bridge
  • LotsaHelping Hands
  • MealBaby
  • TakethemaMeal
  • Flashes of Hope
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
  • Pennies of Time (Service ideas for kids)

How Can We Help What We Can’t Hear?

  • He built community
  • Transparency

About Katie Wetherbee: A ministry and educational consultant, Katie loves helping families, schools, and churches work together so every child feels welcome and included. She’s a columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine and frequently writes and blogs about special needs. Her first book, Every Child Welcome, will be published in 2015.


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