One of the most distressing things for me after returning home from the hospital after my stroke was that my youngest daughter was afraid to be home alone with me as the only adult. Eventually I got over the emotional shock and was able to see it from her point of view – Not that she was afraid of me or her own safety but she was afraid that if something happened to me, she wouldn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to get into a situation where I needed urgent help and she couldn’t do what I needed.
What was needed was to give Julia the confidence that she could successfully get through an emergency without further scaring her about my health or just the likelihood of something bad happening to her. So I approached the conversation as an educational opportunity teaching her how to deal with unexpected emergencies in general and including health events such as my stroke as just another type of unexpected event that she might experience and that she is capable of dealing with it successfully.
Even if you feel that you know enough about emergency preparedness and the emotional strength of your child to be able to wing it, it is a good idea to write an outline beforehand of the points you want to be sure to cover and how you want to express them. Having such a cheat-sheet in hand lets you focus on the conversation and how your child is reacting instead of the details themselves.
Having this kind of conversation with my daughter was/is an excellent way to help her survive any disaster intact and emotionally healthy. I’m kicking myself now that I never thought of having such a conversation with Julia (or my other children) before. My experience with Julia has been a slap upside the head that as a parent that I should have been teaching and preparing my kids to be able to handle emergencies and other unexpected events. You can learn from my example and give your children the knowledge and confidence to survive and deal with unexpected events such as natural disasters and medical emergencies that could happen to anyone (even you.)