The Ways People Cope with Bad News

Categories: Society

A normal person or average person meets troubles or tribulations anytime. Same with reactions toward experiencing things that are not to our liking: we are almost in denial, shocked and in distress, depending on the severity of the crisis. Bad news are such because we do not expect them, or their effects on us, i.e., things that we ordinarily anticipate. Even the naturally pessimistic – the so-called “melancholic and phlegmatic”- types do not expect to be recipients of these news.

            Because bad news come unexpectedly, oftentimes we are not prepared to face them. We do not make plans with how to cope with them. Bad news can be a cancer diagnosis, course failure, or catching one’s spouse with another person. It can also be in the form of a child meeting a tragic accident, being raped or molested; or it could be a missing member of the family not returning home forever.

It can also be news that is connected with a business partner fleeing with a substantial amount of money and gone without a trace, leaving you and your whole family bankrupt.

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What could be more devastating than a loved one committing suicide or hearing your wife dying at the other end of the phone line like what has happened in some of the 911 victims?

            One medical journalist describes her experience upon hearing the doctor’s findings on her husband’s medical check up. She said it felt like being “drop-kicked” into a foreign land whose language she did not know; desperate with no map with her, an unfamiliar terrain and culture, and all she wanted was to go home, and immediately!

            How do we cope with things like these? Many, fortunately, try to manage and are able to hack through the darkness that envelopes them.

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It is the human spirit, despite the feeling of one submerged in deep, murky waters, but one who has the will to come up above the surface. He just could go down and be drowned beneath the overwhelming tide. There is the self preservation instinct, but for how long, we do not know.  Sadly, however, there are others of us who give up easily, or because the pain is too much, mind and emotions could not stand the thought of loss or possible more frightening episodes to come.

Psychologists say people put up defenses like, denial, which is the mind’s refusal or its inability to deal with a serious personal problem (Microsoft Encarta, 2006) or, repression, which is a mechanism to protect oneself and the mind’s way to do this is by forgetting, as if it never happened. There are many ways of escape. The mind has intelligent ways of doing it. The first time a person hears bad news, he copes by either sleeping it through, and if he cannot sleep, learn to use alcohol (if he has not started to use it) to put himself to sleep. He can always ingest sleeping pills though, but the days are sheer torture and the nights are terror hours, with the individual longing for daytime.

            One wise woman who has gone through being “drop-kicked” with cancer and other life threatening diagnoses, at least four-times in her life gives the following sensible advice. Going through it “is a crisis. Treat it like one. Don’t try to go on as though nothing is happening to you. Don’t go to work for at least 48 hours, and cancel your social engagements until you get your feet back under you.” But how can one be better off dealing with bad news or how can a person be better prepared to face such a challenging situation?

            Inner spiritual and emotional strength is indispensable. Things you have accumulated through the years are crucial; hence they serve as fortress, an inner sanctum from which you draw out hope, even just a glimmer of it. If one doesn’t have this, he needs somebody who is a wellspring of optimism in the midst of despair. And this is where people in distress should go, or should possess as friends and as associates in life. They serve as guide in the tunnel of darkness.

            Never limit your associations with just a few people, or isolate yourself from available help such as people beyond the immediate family circle. Give a hint that you are willing and accessible for help. Times come when we will also need other people’s support. There are things that are just inevitable in life. Death of a loved one, becoming sick and hospitalized, or bills that keep piling up for lack of finances to pay them; for all these, there are just “good people” around the corner, that when you had just made yourself noticeable to them prior to your own dilemmas, will just be more than willing and able to help you out in the present.

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The Ways People Cope with Bad News. (2017, Mar 18). Retrieved from

The Ways People Cope with Bad News

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