Caregiving and Grief – How to Help the Helpers

October 3rd, 2013

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain due to an event that occurs after birth. A brain injury can occur while driving a car, playing sports, or riding a bike. Strokes, aneurysms, and lack of oxygen can all cause brain injuries.

For the past few years, I have had the pleasure of leading a psycho-educational group for family caregivers of individuals with acquired brain injuries. Within the group, caregivers offer each other support and understanding. Caregivers also learn strategies for taking care of themselves. Lastly, they are provided a place to process feelings of grief and loss.

Family caregivers of loved ones with an acquired brain injury experience a unique form of grief.

  • Caregivers have lost the person they cherished due to the injury. Yet, at the same time, the caregivers are confronted with their loss on a daily basis as they care for their loved one.
  • There are rarely opportunities for caregivers to have a period of mourning or to engage in rituals that bring about closure following the loss.
  • Caregivers may also be dealing with the added stress of social pressure to feel “lucky” that their loved one is still alive.

If you know someone who is caring for a loved one with an acquired brain injury, remember that even if the injury is years old, the feelings of grief may be still raw. Please encourage them to ask for and accept the help of others. Please also recommend that they contact their local Brain Injury Association for support. In Waterloo and Wellington regions, the Brain Injury Association’s phone number is 519-579-5300.

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One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

 

A psychologist can help.

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