How to Survive Traumatic Brain Injury

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Recognize that death-related fears are normal. Most people fear the death of a loved one at some point in their lives.[1] Additionally, most people experience loss of loved ones in their lifetime.[2] According to terror management theory, thinking about death or a loved one dying can produce paralyzing fear. Thinking about another person dying also highlights our own mortality.

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Focus on what you can control. If you are caring for an ill loved one, this can create additional anxiety, distress, burden, and loss of independence.[3] While you can definitely do your best to help your loved one, you may not be able to control how long your loved one lives. Focus instead, on what you can do today such as spend time with him or cope healthfully with your fear and sadness.

Think of everything you can control about the situation. For example, you can control your own behaviors – what you chose to do about the situation. You can focus on doing your best to comfort and care for your loved one. You can also focus on soothing yourself and expressing your own emotions with loved ones in order to process your grief.

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Accept loss. Studies show that when people have more acceptance surrounding death in general, they have an easier time dealing with loss and show more resilience overall.

You can begin to practice acceptance by making a list of all of the difficult emotions and thoughts that coincide with the fear of losing your loved one. Write down your most intimate thoughts and fears and accept each one. You can say to yourself, “I accept my fear and pain. I accept that I might lose this person some day. It will be hard, but I accept that loss is a part of life.”

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Think positively about the world. When individuals believe that the world is just and fair, they are more resilient and have a less difficult time coping with the loss of loved ones.

One way to think positively about the world is to recognize the circle of life and that both life and death are natural. In order for there to be life, there must be death. Try to see the beauty in both life and death. The life cycle is an amazing thing that we can learn to appreciate and be thankful for. When one person dies, another can live.