5 coping stages after a serious injury

5 coping stages after a serious injury

Recovering from a traumatic injury involves a whole lot more than simply allowing your wounds to heal. The process also comes with immense emotional and mental strain. Coping with the aftermath of the injuries as well as the psychological impacts of trauma is often a difficult journey.

Whether you or a loved one is struggling through this incredibly challenging time, it helps to understand what the path to recovery looks like. It’s true that each individual will handle the process differently, but there are five general stages to coping after a serious injury. 

1. Denial

The first stage of coping is denial. Confusion and agitation are also common during this time. There’s a shock and disbelief that the serious injury even occurred, which can cause people to isolate themselves or act out of character. An introvert may suddenly become extroverted, for instance. 

The reality of a serious injury is hard to grasp, especially when there are lifelong consequences. People will attempt to convince themselves that the trauma never occurred, that they’re simply in a nightmare and this will all be over once they wake up. 

2. Anger

Following the pattern of grieving, the next stage is anger. During this time, individuals often become enraged at the trauma they have experienced and those responsible. At times, the individual may become angry with themselves. 

The individual may lash out at their loved ones or simply bottle up their anger as they ruminate over the event. Traumatic brain injury can add to this anger, as well. Some people reach this stage quickly, while others take time to overcome their denial.

3. Bargaining

In the bargaining stage, people long for how their life was before the trauma. To help ward off grief, the brain concocts ways to reverse the aftermath of the accident regardless of the impossibility. This is one of the most difficult stages to help a loved one through, but the reality of the situation will soon set in.

4. Depression

When their anger subsides and the impossibility of bargaining sets in, people find themselves in a deep-rooted depression. The reality of the situation begins to set in during this time, as well, as they understand how their life will change from the severity of their injuries. 

The extent of the injuries changes how depression takes place. Those who are paralyzed or debilitated may feel worthless, while others realize that their dreams and aspirations are shattered. Isolation is common during this stage, but loved ones must provide support so that healing can take place.

5. Acceptance

While acceptance isn’t the end of the road, it is the beginning of true healing. Each person comes to accept their trauma and their injuries in their own way, but everyone begins to realize what limitation they have and that they should make the most of their situation. 

The support of friends and family is vital in reaching this final stage. There are several other factors that can help, as well. Dealing with the legal side of the trauma, like allowing these San Francisco accident injury lawyers to fight for compensation, takes an immense amount of stress off the injured persons shoulders and provides a little hope. 

Physical therapy, although challenging, can also provide some hope for the future as the individual learns to work through the aftermath of their injuries. Each person will have to reach acceptance on their own time, regardless of what helping factors are around them. Allow them to experience their emotions and provide support whenever you can in the meantime. 

Jaron Brewer

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