Family unity from tragedy

Jennifer Brown’s cousin, Karen, on her bike after recovering from a heart attack. The health crisis helped Brown and her family grow stronger together.
Jennifer Brown’s cousin, Karen, on her bike after recovering from a heart attack. The health crisis helped Brown and her family grow stronger together.

Family unity from tragedy

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Guam

Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at okinawa@stripes.com.

Tragedy is commonly associated with negative life events. Car accidents, health crisis, financial debt, and loss of a loved one are just a few examples of life events that can alter your future. The consequences of tragedy are twofold. For some, the impact of these events can lead them to feeling stuck in a rut and returning to maladaptive coping mechanisms; in others, it pushes them toward a greater future. For my family, tragedy positively affected our dynamic, particularly my relationship with my cousin.

It all started with an unexpected health crisis that would shake my family to its core. My cousin had a heart attack while she was alone. No one would have guessed that of she would be the one to have one. Luckily she recovered and, for the entire family, this event was one to bring us closer together and support her and each other.

I was in Okinawa when I learned of her heart attack through social media.  I reached out immediately not only to her but other members of my family. My cousin and I started to build a deeper relationship which includes checking in daily. As a result, I was able to get to know her better, restoring our relationship from a long distance one to one that felt like we were only states away.

Perhaps my favorite takeaway that this life event led up to was how we have found support in each other. Not just in checking up on our health but also in seeking advice for our lives. We talk about everything from life decisions to daily activities that help us each understand the other’s struggles and achievements. It was through this tragedy that could’ve been a lot worse that we got a second chance to strengthen our family ties and our friendship.

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Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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