Emotional Stages


A parent, spouse, and/or survivor may experience these seven emotions in a fairly predictable order. The amount of time spent at each stage varies widely from a few seconds to many years.

Patience and optimism are essential when offering support to a loved one. If someone you know has suffered a brain injury, please take the time to familiarize yourself with this list of statements to avoid.


A reality before diagnosis is made. Often professionals are unsure and require a planned time interval for study of the individual. Parent, spouse and/or individual are uncertain, bewildered.


When presented with the diagnosis, parent, spouse and/or individual do not accept it. “He’ll out grow it.” “How could that doctor know? He only spent five minutes with me.” Attention is often focused on one small item and the total picture is ignored.


An individual or loved one may turn their dismay outward, often against the doctor who makes the diagnosis. Also, common is to turn against others. The passive individual will turn their disappointment inward: “What did I do wrong?”


There may be excessive hope for a miracle. Frantic searching for a “cure”, “shopping” from doctor to doctor, medical centers, etc. without allowing for consistent treatment.


A resigned attitude but an unhealthy one. May range from “blue” and listless to reality and an attempt to hide. This may indicate that the diagnosis of the individual’s disability is accepted.


Fast progress is made if a correct program, which care for the total individual is offered. Programs may include medical care, educational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological management. They should work together in a team effort. The parent, spouse, and/or individual will be an important “working” member of the team.


The individual not only understands, but also is enriched by having to strengthen his own ability to cope with life. He can now help others.



By: Mary Leydor, M.D., F.AAP.
Taken in part from: “We’ve Been There, Can We Help?” Project C.O.P.E., Montclair, California