Tips on What ‘To Say’ When a Person Has A Brain Injury or Other Life Changes.
The previous article “To Say or Not To Say – After Brain Injury Part 1” looked at what people say that sometimes can be hurtful, unhelpful and at times damaging albeit with good intentions. Today some tips and alternatives for what to say after brain injury to ensure more positive communication.
Most of the links in the previous article also contain alternative and better ways to communicate. Here are a few more:
“I will bring you some delicious healthy brain foods and snacks — and come to sweep and do laundry, but don’t worry, I won’t stay too long.”
“Take your time — we are not in a hurry.”
This article on Brain Injury Explanation has an article full of suggestions of what is helpful such as:
“Please don’t be condescending or talk to me like I am a child. I’m not stupid, my brain is injured and it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Try to think of me as if my brain were in a cast.”
Working on a person’s strengths. “Shining up the good points”
The Mighty worked with the Traumatic Brain Injury Support Facebook page to ask people affected by TBI what they wish others understood about their conditions. Statements like:
“Never assume a person who has difficulty communicating has nothing to say. They may have plenty to say. They just say things a little differently. Never assume their brain doesn’t work, because it does. It just may work a little differently than ours.” — Stacy Sekinger
“I need help. To plan a day. A doctors appointment. I need someone to go with me. I need help to shop, cook and clean. I need help to find my limits and rest enough, but I also need gentle support to take small walks and do gentle 2-minute yoga so my body doesn’t stop working altogether. I need friends who come by and say ‘Hi.’ I need hugs. I need to vent and help to look for any sort of silver linings so I don’t go mad. I need new hobbies that are gentle to get my mind off my problems ,and I need help to get started. I need help to help myself.” — Catriona Thomsen
This article might be helpful if you need some ideas on a more strengths based communication. A list of questions like “What are the things in your life that help you keep strong?”
When you don’t know what to say! As a cancer survivor Emily McDowell, went further than talking to others about what to say and what not to say – she developed Empathy cards. These are cards for people with serious illness many words match, or could be interchanged to reflect brain injury. Cards like: “I’m really sorry I haven’t been in touch for a while I didn’t know what to say”. “Please let me be the first to punch the next person who tells you everything happens for a reason”
What to say after brain injury? Please share any tips and strategies you would add. What is helpful for a person with brain injury?
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