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Below are the 5 stages of grief according to Kubler Ross.  I feel that most people who suffer a traumatic injury (as well as their loved ones) go through these five stages as well (with a few modifications which I highlight).  In order to move on from an injury and start making improvements, one must  complete the stages.

five stages of grief - elisabeth kübler ross 

EKR stage Interpretation

1 - Denial

(It is my opinion that this similar to a lack of awarness so often experienced by people with TBI)

Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defence mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.

(It is my opinion that a person with TBI who has no awareness of the injury has an alternate form of denial (beyond their control depending on the  structural damage of their brain).  If they cannot establish some level of awareness, they will not be able to move on to the other stages and begin to take the steps towards recovery and rehabilitation.  As the brain begins to heal and they are confronted with reality, over time one may possibly be able to achieve some level of awareness.

2 - Anger

Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgemental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.

For someone who has acquired an injury, this is a really tough stage, but one of the most important to work through and resolve.  One must distinguish between psychological anger of what happened to them (why did this happen?), or anger that is the result of physical and chemical changes to the brain that make controlling anger emotions more difficult.  Either way, this an important aspect to deal with.

3 - Bargaining

I would like to change this to bereavement

My spin on her theory: People with an brain injury (mostly)  and their loved ones often realize that the person they once were (or knew) has now changed.  Therefore in a way, they have to mourn the loss of themselves (or loved one) even though that person did not die.

4 - Depression

Some level of depression is experienced as the person realizes the reality of the situation.

Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.

5 - Acceptance

I will change this to "Adjustment"

My own spin: I have often been told by people with brain injury, there is no acceptance.  They could only learn to adjust to the changes.  It is only then when someone can truly begin to start improving their quality of life again when they have learned to adjust to the new person they have become and the new life that has been handed to them.