So here we are at the final day of my challenge to post a mindful moment each day of June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness month. It is somewhat fitting that I have decided to be mindful of endings today. One of the toughest parts adjusting to a brain injury is that the life will never be the same. You might look the same after a brain injury, but inside there have been many changes. A brain injury is typically an involuntary change and as a result most survivors are understandably resistant to the change. Embracing memory loss, impulsivity, sleep disturbances, irritability and quick anger is not on the top of the survivor’s list. Most often the survivor and their family would just like life to go back to the way it was before the injury.
I suppose in some ways brain injury is a soft ending in that the changes and challenges present themselves over a long period of time. There are the primary changes that you notice right away like changes in the ability to speak or walk. There are the changes that take longer to show themselves, like personality changes. And then there are the secondary changes like the inability to work or maintain relationships in the same way as before the injury. All of these changes result in a very different life than prior to the injury. Because the ending is long, so is the grieving process.
Many people have suggested to me that working in the field of brain injury must be sad. And yes there are times when I find the stories very heartbreaking, but the recovery is something else entirely. The recovery from brain injury, because it is such a long and involved process, is much like climbing mount Everest. I find that as I walk with the person there are set backs, and then there are successes. Encouraging, watching and supporting someone to find their strengths within the context of their new life with brain injury can be rewarding. Brain Injury is not a new beginning that someone might choose, but it is a new beginning, and once the survivor takes on the challenge to live their new life, they can be pretty remarkable. I find that being witness to someone taking on this challenge to live life with a brain injury is a true inspiration.
Day 30: Be mindful of endings today. Notice your reaction to an ending. Notice your thoughts and feelings and body posture. Do you grieve? Do you rejoice? Do you relax? And what do you tend to next? How do you say goodbye? Notice the way you anticipate endings. Are you excited? Or do you dread them? Notice the difference when an ending is expected versus unexpected. Be aware that the ending can also be a beginning and notice this shift. What it is like to think of the transition as opposed to the finality?
Be mindful of endings . . .