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5 heartbreaks every family will face and how to get through them
There is hope in tough times. - photo by Alex Phippen
Life is hard -- period. Things happen, plans fail and the unimaginable can quickly become reality. Having a family sometimes seems to make us more vulnerable; but it allows us to tackle the hard things together with those we love. Here are five heartbreaks every family goes through and how to face them head on.

1. The death of a loved one

Death is something difficult to understand, and is especially hard for children. Saying "It's just a natural part of life" doesn't always cut it.

It is crucial for a family to maintain the correct focus when a loved one passes. This means remembering the person's life and the amazing individual they were. Yes, its definitely OK -- and good -- to cry together as a family; but it's damaging to obsess over the fact that someone isn't here anymore. Help your family understand that death isn't the end, and lead as an example.

2. Addiction

Addiction shatters relationships by driving a wedge between families and those who matter most. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling and video games are some of the more common forms of this ever-present danger.

Everyone is vulnerable to some form of addiction. Sometimes addictions are obvious, and sometimes they remain hidden until things boil over.

Families need to look out for one another and take immediate action when red flags arise. Teach your children the dangers of addiction. Love and support those who are struggling enough to help them seek professional help. Take advantage of available resources.

3. Financial stress

Financial burdens can suffocate a family's happiness. Studies have shown that financial problems are the third leading cause of divorce.

Having a baby, losing a job, an unexpected medical emergency, car problems, college tuition, or even day-to-day expenses can quickly cause debt to add up. The solution: BUDGET. The concept is simple, but it takes a lot of work to stick to a budget. If you don't know where to start, try recording all of your family's expenses for one month or even just for a week. This will give you a good idea of what to plan for and where you can cut back.

Children will mirror their parent's saving and spending habits. Teach them the value of hard work and allow them to pay for things on their own.

4. Broken trust

There is an Irish proverb that says, "When mistrust comes in, loves goes out." Mistrust and poor communication within a family are often the underlying causes of many other challenges. Fix this one area and watch as other hardships within your family improve or disappear entirely.

Eating meals together is one proven way to break down barriers and create a non-threatening setting in which everyone can express themselves. Be open and honest in your family relationships. Let trustworthiness be a priority in your lives.

5. Selfishness

Part of raising a family is learning to put others' needs before your own. Without this sacrifice, a family turns into a group of people who simply live together.

Selfishness is a poison that can become a normal way of thinking if not carefully avoided. When making decisions, consider asking yourself this question: Is what I'm doing going to help or hurt my family?

Every heartbreak has its silver lining, if you are willing to see it. If handled carefully, challenges can bring a family closer together and fortify relationships that can last forever.
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