How to Cope with Grief after Brain Injury

By Roger Foisy on October 17th, 2013

brain-injuryBrain injuries, even those classified as “mild” traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), can have significant short and long-term impacts on the injured person’s life and the lives of their loved ones.

It is completely normal and healthy to find yourself grieving after you or someone you are close to suffers from a brain injury. Grief and mourning are natural, important emotions. It is how we heal and are able to move forward after a loss. We grieve after events such as death, divorce, illness/injury, or even life transitions. 

Brain injuries come with many losses. The person with the injury may have difficulties with day-to-day activities, a change in personality, or an inability to handle the demands of work. The challenges and changes can alter lifestyle, physical abilities, emotional capacity, financial independence, and social interactions. Grief is a common way to respond to these major changes and losses.

Although grief is different for everyone, some of the emotions you may experience include:

  • Shock
  • Numbness
  • Disbelief
  • Disorganization
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Regret
  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Emptiness
  • Sadness
  • Searching for meaning

While grieving, you must not push yourself to move on faster than you are ready. You are not overreacting – your loss is real. Be fair to yourself and take the time to heal by allowing yourself to grieve.

Tips for Coping with Grief after a Brain Injury

  • Acknowledge that your loss is real, do not let yourself or others diminish this fact
  • Allow your feelings to play out
  • Reflect on who you were before the accident, who you are now, and who you would like to be in the future (if you are a loved one of the injured person, reflect on their changes)
  • Understand that you may experience secondary losses, such as loss of income, lifestyle, or friendships
  • Recognize that your family and friends are also grieving
  • Ask for help and support
  • Try to keep life in perspective to avoid feeling overwhelmed


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It is not an easy process, but grief is our way of saying goodbye to the past. It allows us to begin to greet the future, even though the future may not look how we had imagined it would.

If time goes on and you are finding the weight of grief unbearable, you should seek advice and guidance from a professional who may be able to help you with the grieving process.

>> If you or a family member has suffered a brain injury at another party’s fault, you can seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help ease the financial burden. Contact us for immediate support and a free consultation.

*Roger R. Foisy has completed courses in Neurorehabilitation and Advanced Brain Injury Rehabilitation from Brock University. However, he is not a medical professional. The advice in this blog is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. 

Image source: OBIA – Ontario Brain Injury Association 

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