A major house fire is one of the most difficult things that anyone can experience. Many people feel a fluctuating mixture of fear, anxiety, anger, and helplessness in the aftermath of a household fire, and these feelings are understandable and natural—especially if the damage is extensive and you and other household residents barely escaped with your lives. Moving forward after a house fire can feel like trying to swim in slow motion sometimes, but once you get started, picking up the pieces often becomes easier. Here's some strategies for moving forward after a fire once the initial frenzy is over. 

Find Good Living Accommodations

You'll need another place to stay while your home is being restored to a livable condition. This may not be the best time to bunk in with family or friends—having your own personal space lessens the amount of trauma that many people feel during the aftermath of a fire—and if you have children, the kind of essential family bonding that helps heal trauma may be difficult to achieve when you're crowded into someone else's home. 

If finances are an issue, your homeowners insurance may have provisions for temporary accommodations after a fire. Your local chapter of the American Red Cross may also be a resource for finding a place to stay while waiting for your home to be restored. 

Practice Self Care

The days and weeks following a major household fire can be emotionally difficult for most people. It may be difficult for them, for instance, to stop thinking about what could have happened if they and their family members had been unable to exit the house in time. The loss of valuable items as well as cherished family mementos can be difficult to handle, and if you've got children in the home, you're probably having to act as their emotional rock during this trying time—fires may be particularly traumatic for children. Self care is essential if you want to remain strong for your loved ones and get your lives back on track. Even if you're childless, looking out for your own emotional well-being is an important part of the healing process. 

Practicing self care can mean different things to different people. You may benefit from treating yourself to a spa visit complete with relaxing treatments such as deep tissue massage, aromatherapy, and other luxurious options. It could mean retreating to a vacation cabin in the mountains with books and fishing poles, going on a romantic getaway with your spouse, or scheduling several visits with a competent, compassionate therapist in order to work through your feelings of trauma and loss caused by the fire. 

Begin the Restoration Process

Sorting through your things and deciding which items can be salvaged and what must be discarded can be painful and cathartic at the same time. Many people get a sense of closure from these activities. Even though you'll probably be hiring a qualified fire restoration service to handle the major cleaning and restoration such as removing soot and smoke smells from furniture, walls, rugs, and flooring, you may still want to deal with clothing and other personal items yourself. 

When washing clothing that has been permeated with the smell of smoke, you can add tri-sodium phosphate to your regular laundry detergent, but practice caution because this substance can be caustic. For a more natural approach to the removal of smoke smell, wash your clothing in cold water using your regular detergent along with a spoonful of vanilla extract. Bleach can also work on clothing that can safely be bleached. 

Your local fire damage cleaning service can provide you with more advice on picking up the pieces after a fire.