Walking along the path to the parking lot behind my middle school, I can’t wait to reach Mom before breaking down into tears.
Most days I can at least make it home before crying, or at least to the car where Mom picks me up after school, but not today. Today the pain is too much, and the emotions are too strong.
Mom holds me as I cry, strokes my hair, wipes my tears.
“When will I have my life back?” I ask her, pleading. “When will I just get to be me again?”
Mom doesn’t have an answer for me, but she holds me just the same. She lets me cry like this every day as I mourn the loss of my former life. Sometimes she cries with me.
Mourning the loss of the former self is an important part of identity reconstruction for individuals with brain injury. For many including myself, grieving our “old” identities helps us recognize the end of an era – of life without brain injury – and move towards acceptance of life with brain injury as a liminal space.
Sure, grieving is a phase, but it comes and goes. Maybe it will end. Maybe it won’t.
There is light though, I promise. We’ll get there.