Grieving a TBI to Heal a TBI

I Have to Deal With What?

Our society does not deal with pain and loss very well, particularly pain that does not disappear after a week or two. So it should come as no surprise that we may not know how to deal with the pain we experience because of our loss of capacity. Close loved ones also need to grieve the loss, especially if their own lives have changed as a result.

Note: This post is an introduction to what I write about in my upcoming book, “Simple.” The book will be reasonably priced so everyone can get a copy, and if that is prohibitive, email me and I am happy to send you an electronic version.

How We Grieve

Grief is how we deal with loss. Everyone grieves differently; however, there are stages of grief common to most of us. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book “Death and Dying” defined five stages of grief, which apply to any loss. I have added the final two stages because Kubler-Ross’s last stage leaves us with accepting the loss — there is still a lot to do if we want to contribute to the world around us.

There is a temptation to view these stages as a means of controlling our grief. When I first learned of them, I thought “Ahhh, I go through each stage and then I am done.” Wrong. There is an unpredictable spiral to our grieving. We may not go from one stage to the next systematically. We may spend months or years in one stage and hardly notice another. We will return to various stages over time so we can work through them in a way not possible before.

Most of all, we need to realize that grief is never truly done. Even if we fully recovered, we would still have the loss ability during that time in our lives. We must give ourselves permission and freedom to grieve so that we can experience the healing it offers.

Grieving is not fun, but it is freeing. And the deeper our support from loved ones and community, the easier our journey. If you feel you need more support, please contact your priest or minister, the groups and resources or email me, all in the “About” link. Though we must each travel this journey, we need not travel alone.

Spiral Staircase

(11–01–2003) Written nearly one year after my disabling concussion. Simply naming that we’re grieving can free us to experience this challenging form of healing.

Grieving, they say, is a process of Denial, anger, bargaining depression, and acceptance.

It is not so clean as that.

The steps are all there, if not so neatly lined up.

They are arranged in an inwardly descending spiral staircase to the soul.

The first four steps are only for the purpose of accepting and integrating the need to decent the rest of the staircase.

It is a journey well worth taking, when necessity requires it, for with each step into the depths, One is added into the heights, where, without the anchor of the depths, we do not last.

To take the journey, I must first grieve that I am grieving. Amen. –Patrick A. Jones

Seven Stages? Aren’t There Only Five?

Yes, the classic stages of grief, defined by Dr. Elizibeth Kubler-Ross are the first five of these seven stages. I found in my own experience grieving my chronic losses from brain injury, as well as working with many survivors and caregivers, that it is not enough to accept our loss, we have to figure out how to intigrate these losses and then move on to co-create with God. Like the first five stages, these are organic to the human experience; Dr. Kubler-Ross simply didn’t see them because she was working with terminally ill patients to help them prepare to die, not their loved ones who dealt with the loss after, or with people experiencing losses of chronic health issues.

The Seven Stages of Grief:

  1. Denial: This is not happening to me
  2. Anger: Why is this happening?
  3. Bargaining: What if?
  4. Depression: I don’t care anymore.
  5. Acceptance: Wow. This really is part of my life.
  6. Integration: What’s different now?
  7. Co-Creation: I’m ready to contribute and reconnect now.