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Earthquake Anxiety

Tsefat, in the Galil in Northern Israel
Tsefat in the Galil in Northern Israel suffered an earthquake in 1837

or, this could also be titled:

How do you talk to someone who expresses a lot of fears?

I was thinking of subtitling this: ‘How to talk to an elderly person.’ But the truth is, it could be a child who is very anxiety-prone. And for some elderly adults who have seen so much over their lifetimes, anxiety over an earthquake is not a big issue.

When I visited with my aunt who is in her eighties, she told me she is glad she no longer lives in Jerusalem, because the people who live there are going to be in trouble. At first, I thought she meant they were in danger for spiritual reasons. No, she meant for physical reasons. She had seen a television show that stated an earthquake is due to come to Israel, and Jerusalem is going to be one of the harder hit places. She said the Arabs (generally speaking) tend to build their homes on rock, and the Jews (generally speaking) built homes on sand. So the Jewish homes are more at risk in an earthquake. How structures are built can determine who lives and who dies in an earthquake. For example, in the recent China earthquake, sadly, some children died at school while their parents at home survived.

In responding to my aunt, I mostly listened, trying to echo what she said (what I would call “active listening”). I asked my cousin what he thought of his mother’s earthquake anxiety. She does have a point, he responded. However, he figures the earthquake isn’t due for another ten years. So for the next nine years, he tells her, don’t worry about it!

Do earthquakes cause you anxiety? Or maybe you get concerned over global warming? When I was a kid, the thought of nuclear war used to scare me.

Robin says

For an elderly person whose opinions and fears have had a long time to set, I'd probably do what you did - active listening and empathy. For a child, I think I'd work more on understanding the reason behind the fear and giving them tools/scaffolding to move past it.

And since you're talking about Zfat, I thought your readers might get a kick out of this. You may want to set down your drinks before reading though. I'm just sayin'.

mother in israel says

Does she live in the north? Because the news today is that seismological warnings show that an earthquake there is imminent.

Jack says

Living in LA I have experienced a number of big earthquakes. We keep hearing about how we are due to have a very large one some time in the future.

The hard part about it is that you really don't have any significant warning. By the time the shaking starts there is not a lot of time to do anything.

All you can do is try to prepare your home and yourself as best as possible. After that it is out of your hands. Not very reassuring, but...

Baila says

Sometimes I am afraid of my own shadow; most of the time I stay [somewhat] sane but remembering that it's all out of our control....

Sorry we missed each other. I thought you were going to be my first face-to-face blogger meeting.

Ilana-Davita says

Eartquakes is not an issue here but when I was a kid I used to fear that another war was round the corner. I live in a region where WW1 was a tragedy. Obviously the impact of WW2 was even more forceful because of what our parents and grandparents would tell us.
When dealing with other people's anxiety I'd agree with Robin. Empathy and active listening for older people.
It is easier to resort to reason with a child; besides I think that children are more ready to believe and trust us (adults). Old people's fears are more difficult to deal with.

Leora says

Robin, I like your different tactics for the elderly and for a child. MiI, she lives in a neighborhood north of Haifa. Hopefully, her assisted living building is up-to-code. I'll let my cousin worry about that (he lives in the North, too, in a private home). Jack, yes, I guess that's life in CA. Baila, at least we had a chance to speak on the phone! I felt almost like I met you. ID, I used to worry about wars a lot. Now I just try to enjoy each day and take care of each family member as issues arise.


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