Managing Family Members When They Can’t Handle TEOTWAWKI

We’ve talked about the crazy people you’ll find when putting together your survival group.  I’d like to talk today about the crazy people we have less choice about. Family. Sadly, we don’t get to choose our family.  We do get a choice in how/if we include them in our survival plans.  Some are strong, stable individuals who may have a place in your survival plans. Others are seemingly incapable of things like self-restraint, self-preservation or  grace under pressure.  And that’s before the SHTF on a national scale. For those relatives, including them in your survival plans is mostly a matter of predicting their points of failure and planning your responses to them.

In some cases, it’s easier and better to cut off contact with those family members who you would rather not see after the SHTF.  I think most readers here have a firm grasp on this one, but I’ll give an example anyway. I have a cousin, who lives a few states away, and I make sure he has no idea where we live, beyond the vague ‘Iowa.’  He had a huge problem with drugs, until he got beat near to death by said drug dealers, and has spent the past 6 years in and out of jail and probation, trying to get his life back on track.  I’m not interested in dealing with his addictions or the trouble from them.  His track record is a pretty sure thing and predicting his point of failure is pretty easy.

More challenging decisions will center around those family members who are generally good people but, for one reason or another, can’t handle stress. Stress can be difficult for anyone to bear, but stress compounded by marital problems, illness, malnutrition or addictions can be even more difficult to bear.  Guessing where and when that stress will cause a breakdown can be tricky.  For instance, you can probably guess if your brother-in-law’s marriage will be strong enough to handle a SHTF event.   So, for the sake of the example, let’s assume it will fail. Sure, you have a plan to handle said brother-in-law if he shows up wanting a couch to sleep on. Do you have a plan to handle him if he goes on an alcohol binge, which, when combined with malnutrition (because he’s been living off of chips and slim jims for a couple of months) and stress sends him into a psychotic break down in the middle of the night? [Yea, that’s a true story.]

Let’s say you plan to take in your elderly mother/grandmother.  Do you have plans for dealing with instability as mental functions decline? Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, there are lots of fancy  names for it, and your army surplus store doesn’t have a tool for dealing with it.   Stress and instability will only make those conditions worse, and it’s better to think about how you’ll handle them, before you have to.   I think better locks on doors, perhaps some of those child-proof covers on the stove and a watchful mentality by everyone living in the house can go a long way towards keeping an elder safe, even when they drift mentally.

Even the strongest of your relatives, those that you may have as integral people to your survival plans, could have a hard time dealing with extreme grief or depression and need more than a cup of tea to set them straight again. I’m not saying you need a fully stocked pharmacy, but I think you’d be doing yourself a favor if you have a plan for dealing with this need. There are a number of herbs with useful properties and some OTC’s that could come in handy.  Taking the time now to put together the supplies and doing a bit of reading online could make a difficult situation a little better.

Our society has been pretty good about insulating most families from the crazy, the dangerous and the messy.  We’ve had enough money, (generally speaking,) to pay for law enforcement personnel and medical personnel and facilities to foist those problems off where we don’t have to deal with them in our day-to-day lives. Those services can be overwhelmed pretty quickly, especially if government assistance dries up, which  is already happening.  I think it’s easy to say now that you’ll be in your remote doomstead, where the zombies can’t get you, but the reality is infirmity and mental illness can’t be stopped by quarantine or ammunition.

Calamity Jane