When the unthinkable happens.
You never really think something like this would happen to you.
Sometimes in life things happen that completely knock us off our feet and leave us feeling lost and hugely shaken up. Our house fire on the 18th December 2020 did just that.
But once the smoke had finally cleared, there are 9 big lessons I wanted to share with you.
Rising from the ashes
1. Stuff is just stuff
The day of the fire, we really did loose everything. From our old baby clothes to our wardrobes. But something that has really stuck with me since the fire is that belongings really don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Belongings can be replaced, the house can be rebuilt; possibly even better than before. I have realised that my happiness does not come from a new bag or item of clothing, it comes from the eye watering, tummy aching laughs I have with my family. Real happiness comes from the people you surround yourself with.
When you loose everything it makes you realise what you have right in front of you.
2. Unity between my family
As a family unit we were very strong before but in hindsight, having a fire during lockdown made us so much stronger and brought us even closer. I have learnt to embrace all the little things in life and love everyone around me. I have seen that through the worst of times, my family will always come out the other end with a smile.
3. The community around us
It takes a village to come back from a house fire and don’t we know it. Our family, friends and even strangers got us through our first couple of weeks. The amounts of kindness, love and care from complete strangers was overwhelming. Never did I hold onto strangers words as much as I did then, their reassuring words made me feel safe and secure as though everything would be ok. The people in our village prepared homemade lasagnas, chilli con carne and gooey chocolate brownies, and we will never be able to thank them enough for their mind boggling generosity. My overall lesson is that people are amazing and that when you need help it is always there. A community coming together is unbeatable.
4. Emergency Services
We live in the countryside of Kent (ie the middle of nowhere!) and emergency services are a good twenty to thirty minutes away. Having never needed to call them before, and having had no real experience with them, they were unquestionably the most incredible group of people I have met. While it was just another day in the office for them, they went above and beyond to help my family and they really did exceed any expectations.
5. Never take anything for granted
We have all learnt to be grateful. We now appreciate each other, our belongings and the surroundings far more than we used to. Everybody needs to remember that it’s the simplest things in life we should all be most thankful for. Being able to go out everyday and breathe in fresh air is a blessing. The few things we do have left, we cherish and appreciate.
6. Maintaining high safety standards is essential
Naturally, my reaction when I first found out was panic; I was terrified that my family and pets had been unable to escape. Safety should always be the priority, and our alarm system was not up to date, therefore when the fire started it did not go off. A lesson we have learnt is that fire alarms need to be fitted throughout the house INCLUDING the attic. Thankfully the fire happened in the early hours of the morning, but if it had been in the middle of the night then it could have been a very different story.
7. Taking everyday as it comes
Another thing that I have learnt is that there is no rush. No rush to grow up, no rush to move out or get a job. Never force anything, no one expects you to know everything or have anything planned out. We need to learn to live in the present, not always focusing on the future and our next steps. We should take each day as it comes, some may be good some may be bad, but learn to love each day for its highs and lows. Without the lows there would be no highs.
8. An animals comfort
Animals are the best company. One of the things that kept me so grounded during this unsettling time was our animals. Pets are constant, they are steady and provide so much comfort. They don’t have opinions, they don’t disagree, they just listen. They helped me to have some normality and continue with my day to day life.
9. Giving back
While being in a pandemic, our home is our sanctuary; a safe, familiar place. But I now know anyone can create this anywhere, for me – home is with my family not where I am or the physical house. Seeing how generous other people are makes me think about how much more giving I need to do.
There are worse things in life than a house fire and I am very lucky no one was hurt or worse. Life goes on and as humans we learn and move forward. I am now used to my new normal, and while dreadful, the experience has made me stronger and more resilient. I’m sharing these lessons with you so that in the midst of a catastrophe, you remember that every cloud has a silver lining… or nine in my case!