I was watching a news clip of Gabrielle Giffords presenting simply and powerfully to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Gun Violence on January 30th 2013. Her courage, determination and bravery are absolutely evident, and inspirational.
I watch, and among many thoughts I think, this is why I do what I do, how amazing, how privileged to be even a small part of the life and support of people who teach so much about courage, resilience, perseverance and so much more. MUCH more.
I think about the incredible support, particularly from her husband, that would have been with Gabrielle, get to this point. And of the many other stories I have shared from family, partners and friends supporting their family members through the many challenges and changes.
So what can we, as supporters, learn from Gabrielle and her family to help us support people? Here are just a few thoughts that sprang to mind as I watched that news clip:
Build on the skills and talents a person already has
While Gabrielle has ongoing difficulty with speech and word finding, her previous skills and knowledge enable her to present powerfully in public forums.
Valued social roles are important. Help build and maintain valued social roles
Gabrielle and her husband are both often introduced in the media with their former roles “former congresswoman” and “retired astronaut”. Our social roles are important in the way we see ourselves and the way others view us. Look for roles the person may have had, or is interested in.
Recovery and rehabilitation is ongoing
When brain injury is a result of trauma (a traumatic brain injury) recovery can be lifelong. Two years post her injury, Gabrielle describes ongoing therapy, and continuing hard work to progress her recovery. Yes it is a slow process, but progress continues.
Brain injury affects families, supporting the family as a whole supports the person who has a brain injury
Gabrielle has talked about the importance of her family, and the support they provide. You can see her husband, Mark Kelly gently assisting Gabrielle to success through interviews and presentations.
“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.”
Despite huge changes and challenges to her life, with continuing struggles from the outcomes of her brain injury, Gabrielle Giffords attended and presented at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Gun control in the USA.
Find ways to ensure success.
The presentation Gabrielle made was printed for her in large print and short sentences by her speech therapist. Gabrielle’s husband stood with her during her presentation and guided her place on the page when needed. This ensured Gabrielle’s presentation was successful despite her difficulties.
I am sure there are many more lessons we can take from this amazing woman and the many other people we meet who live their lives with brain injury. What would you add?
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