Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury and the Grieving Process — Part 1 and Part 2 Revisited

Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live my friend. I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend. Several years ago I wrote an article series to share information that helped me. I would like to share the information with you at this time through this series. The information that I share in this series helped me to grow in awareness and self-acceptance.

This article series was originally posted by Second Chance to Live on May 25, 2008

Hi and welcome back to Second Chance to Live my friend. I am so happy that you decided to stop by and visit with me. I am honored by your presence. Today I want to begin talking about the process of acceptance. Through my process of acceptance I came to a life changing awareness. I found that I could not begin to accept myself and move on with life until I first made peace with the losses that I experienced because of my traumatic brain injury. In my quest to make peace with those losses I needed to address my sadness. In my experience I could not just “get over it” with out first doing the necessary work.

I needed help to be able to identify and address my sadness and frustration so that I could move beyond my sadness and frustration. I needed to identify what I was experiencing so that I could move beyond what could not be changed.

In my experience I needed to stop avoiding my reality. In Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s book On Death and Dying Elizabeth elaborates on the stages of grieving. In her book she introduces the 5 stages that people go through as they grieve their loss (s). The first of these 5 stages is denial. Denial is a defense mechanism that protects the individual from having to confront the shock of their loss. Denial manifests itself in various ways. I have heard denial explained as a warm blanket that insulates and shields the individual from having to face their reality. Denial can also be used as a door to shut out, that which is just too painful to address.

Denial can also be used to ignore and avoid what we do not want to confront. Denial can be used to erect a dam to hold back unwanted memories and emotional pain. Denial can be used to suppress body memories. Denial can be used as a disconnect, so that our heart’s won’t let our head’s know what is or what has happened. Denial can also be used to defend, answer and explain away behaviors that undermine our well beings. Denial can also be used to dismiss or invalidate another person’s pain or reality in order to avoid having to interpret or address uncomfortable feelings.

Before I began my grief work, I saw denial as an ally. When anguish motivated me to begin my grieving process I began to see denial as an active adversary. As my eyes slowly opened I saw that denial was seeking to keep me trapped in a system that would or could not allow me to realize or accept my reality. In collusion with my fear (s), denial shamed me for not being enough even though I sought to do my very best. Denial also sought to keep me distracted so that I could not see a way to my destiny. Denial led me to believe that I was my disability, deficits and limitations.

Denial minimized my passion and discounted my gifts, talents and abilities. Denial — in practice — sought to silence my voice. Denial kept me shrouded by a societal stigma that devalued my worth because of my traumatic brain injury. Denial kept me subservient to what other people thought of me. Denial undermined my self-worth and self-esteem. Denial kept me crouched in the shadows of isolation. Denial told me that what I thought and felt were of no accord. Denial sought to keep me distracted so that I could not see the truth. Denial sought to disparage my value and worth because I did not live up to denial’s expectations.

As my awareness grew and I saw how my denial was limiting my life. Consequently, I made the decision to confront my denial.

Through the process of confronting my denial I have learned some valuable lessons. I will share some of those lessons through out this series. In my experience I discovered that as I confronted my denial I needed to keep the focus on my self. I needed to be accountable to and for how I was choosing to respond my loss (s). I needed to own my sadness because of my loss (s) instead of detaching from my reality. I needed to feel my feelings. I needed to sit with my discomfort. I needed to determine why I was reacting to people, places and situations. I needed to determine why I thought that I needed to maintain my denial.

I needed to love myself through the process of confronting my denial. Consequently, I could no longer blame anyone for my loss (s) or for how I was choosing to react to my loss (s), including myself.

Through my experience of confronting my denial I became more accountable to myself. As I  continued and continue to be accountable to and for myself I have been able to own my process. As I have been able to own my process, I have been empowered to move beyond my denial. In the process, I have slowly been able to brake free of a denial system that sought to justify its position by denying my reality. By confronting my denial I have been able to open the door that denial sought to keep shut. Therefore I have been able to move on with my journey towards the acceptance of my loss (s) and myself.

In the process, I gave and give myself the permission to be present for myself.

The article continues in Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7. To read each Part, please click on the following highlighted links: Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and the conclusion in Part 7. By clicking on the links, the article part will open on Second Chance to Live. Thank you.

As you read this article and questions come to mind, please send those questions to me. All questions are good question. In the event that you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. You may send your question (s) or comment (s) by clicking on this link: Contact Page.

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