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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Families living with families after storm creates unique set of stressors

Families living with families is not an uncommon occurrence after a disaster, especially in southeast Louisiana where ties among extended families and even friends are indigenous to the culture.

So it’s no surprise that as recent flood waters receded, those families not affected heartily swung open their doors and hearts to displaced family members.

Consequently, a family of four living in a modest home might now be housing eight to 10 people in those same quarters, which suddenly seemed to shrink overnight.

But the generosity of the host families is inherent with potential potholes as the novelty of the first few days settles into the everyday meshing of two family units under a single roof.

“First of all it is important to recognise that (the guest family) is grieving,” said Daryl Ducote, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “With grief comes depression and anger.

“And so they may not be aware that some of the feelings being expressed in rubbing elbows with extended family is really a spillover from what is happening internally as they are trying to manage feelings of grief over what they lost,” he told The Catholic Commentator, the diocesan newspaper. “That grief in terms of sadness and anger gets displaced onto the people around them.”

Picture: A man wades through a flooded street in Ascension Parish, La., on 15th August. More than six weeks after rain and floods devastated southern Louisiana, the recovery continues. Many families have had to move in with other families, which creates a unique set of stressors. (CNS photo/Jonathan Bachman, Reuters).