Grieving the Loss of Self
Last week on January 8th, 2013, I presented the topic of Grieving the Loss of Self to the Brain Aneurysm Support Group at Beth Israel Medical Center. As a person who sustained a brain aneurysm and underwent brain surgery, it was an honor and a privilege to be invited by the support group coordinator, Diedre A. Buckley, MS, RN, ANPc. I had met Diedre while I was seeing neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas, for his opinion about my brain tumor. When he heard I had an aneurysm, and also about my book Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, he told me the hospital has monthly support group meetings, and asked if I would be a presenter. I immediately said “yes”, knowing that as a member of a support group, and brain aneurysm and brain surgery survivor, I could provide help and hope.
The support group of 25 contained a mix of caregivers, family members and people who have had an aneurysm and brain surgery. I stressed to the group that out of all the various symptoms of a brain injury, the hardest of overcome in order to regain your life is grieving the loss of self.
The presentation was divided into three parts. During the first part I gave an introduction and my story about my life prior to my cerebral bleed and brain surgery. This was followed by an in-depth explanation of the process of grieving the loss of self (This information can be found in Chapter 27 of my book, Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Guide to living with the Challenges Associated with Post Concussion Syndrome/ Brain Trauma).
In the third part of my presentation I switched things to a town meeting forum, which is different than just questions and answers. Any topic and all questions are welcomed and answered. By the end of the 90 minutes, everyone said they learned a lot, felt their voices had been heard, and said that even though I was a professional, I was one of them, including a caregiver for several of my family members. We all walked away feeling it was a productive meeting. For the participants, they voiced that they felt they were given help and hope. For me, this opportunity gave me a reason for why I spent 7 years learning to walk and talk again, and a meaning to help people even more.
There is a Way!