FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Published: June 3, 2006
42

THE GRIEVING PROCESS

SCI can be so traumatic that most patients and their families and friends go through the four stages of the grieving process. Each stage is normal and necessary to experience before progressing to the next stage and completing the process.

Stage 1: Denial is a common way of coping in the beginning. Many people try to deny the seriousness and permanency of SCI, but remaining in this stage can slow down or prevent Rehabilitation.

Stage 2: Anger and Frustration is also common among patients and their families. They see themselves as victims and are hostile to others because they are seen as having caused the injury and/or unable to “fix” it. The more everyone learns about SCI and works with other members of the Rehab Team, the better everyone can deal with these feelings.

Stage 3: Depression and Withdrawal can follow feelings of anger and frustration. As patients and their families learn about and how to cope with SCI, they may become withdrawn from others in their community and experience loneliness and isolation as a result. It is very important for patients to seek out and join peer groups of positively-oriented SCI patients, and for families to seek out and join support groups.

Stage 4: Adaptation occurs as patients and their families come to understand and accept what cannot be changed or “fixed”. As everyone adapts, the highest possible quality of life becomes possible for all.

Remember:

* Be involved and supportive in every stage of the rehabilitation process of your loved one. Even the best medical care is incomplete without your loving concern and encouragement.
* Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s care and therapy.
* Do not be afraid to ask for and accept realistic help from others, especially with the “little things” like picking something up at the store or fixing a meal.
* Do not keep everything inside. Each family member needs someone they can talk to, such as a member of the clergy, a social worker, a friend or a professional counselor, and someone they can turn to when they are having problems, such as a member of the Rehab Team or a support group.
* Always be honest, open, and patient with your loved one.

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PoinTIS Copyright © 1998 the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, all rights reserved.