The brain-injury survivor will be seen in a different light by almost everyone around him. Some people may feel pity; others will feel admiration. If the person appears normal physically but has cognitive difficulties, people may even feel annoyed and impatient with his limitations. Hopefully, though, most people will treat the brain- injury survivor as the individual he has always been and is now.
Regaining a Sense of Identity
“My life as a husband, a father to my 9-year-old son, an industrial consultant, and fiction writer changed forever. Some aspects for the worse, but some for the better.”
D.M., Brain-injury Survivor
As mentioned in Chapter Four, one of the major issues brain-injury survivors often find they can no longer define themselves by their jobs, hobbies, relationships, social status, or possessions. They must find a way of redefining themselves. They learn to focus on what they are able to do now. A father may not be able to help his kids with their homework, but he can now spend more time with them and laugh. He may not be the shrewd businessman he once was, but he has discovered his compassionate side and wants to help others. He can still joke and make people laugh, and this comforts those who remember him for his humor. He cannot dance without a cane, but he tries, and has learned to be more loving with his wife.
The process of regaining a sense of identity will be different for everyone. Some people may want time to figure it out on their own, and others will want plenty of support and guidance from their families. Whatever the method, families should respect the needs and wishes of the survivor.
A woman may identify herself as a wife, mother, sister and supervisor. With the injury comes a change in identity, a change in roles, and a subsequent change in relationships. The relationships may not change for the worse or even end. In fact, many relationships can become stronger and more satisfying.