For most people, denial is the first stage of grief when a tragedy occurs. The world suddenly becomes so overwhelming and confusing that the only way to cope with the staggering misery is to shut it out and to deny that it has happened. Psychologists and grief counselors recognize the necessity of denial as a coping mechanism and as a way to survive the tragedy of the loss. For some people, however, it stops being the healthy first stage of grieving, turning instead into a method of avoiding the realities of life after tragedy. For others, denial is a way of coping with stress that can lead to serious consequences.
Denial and Grief
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a devastating loss. For Debra Graziano, whose son, John, suffered a TBI following a terrible car crash, the last four years have been a continuous exercise in denial.
Tampa Bay Online spoke with her about her feelings of pain and loss. Because her son’s friend, who was driving the car, was the son of the famous wrestler Hulk Hogan, she suddenly found that every detail of her life was splashed across the tabloids for everyone to read.
While denial was healthy and normal when the tragedy first occurred, four years later, Graziano still lives in denial. She tells friends and family that her son is still the friendly, outgoing young man he was before the accident. She acknowledges that she is living in denial, but believes it keeps her going. “I have so many things to deal with, so many layers of issues,” Graziano told a reporter. “If I allow myself to feel anger and bitterness, I would not be able to have a drop of joy in me.” Unfortunately, staying firmly planted in denial keeps Graziano from continuing through the remaining stages of grief and finding acceptance.
Denial and Stress
When denial is used as a coping mechanism for personal stress, it can lead to tragedy. The Globe and Mail celebrated the return of ‘Sid the Kid,’ detailing the story of a coach’s denial that nearly killed star hockey player Sidney Crosby. After a serious blow to the head, the coach failed to check if Crosby had suffered a concussion, and allowed him to play out the rest of the game. Such an action creates the potential for tragic consequences. “Second-impact syndrome,” or a concussion on top of a concussion, can kill. In the next game he played, Crosby was hit from behind, causing the brain injury that took him off the ice for a year.
Crosby was fortunate that he survived the injury with little lasting damage. Denying the presence of an injury sacrifices the long-term health of the athletes for short-term benefits. Luckily, Crosby’s injury shone a spotlight on this dangerous practice. Today, both professional sports teams and parents of children who play sports take concussions seriously.
If someone you love suffered a serious brain injury because of the carelessness of another, contact our office for a free consultation. The time to file a claim is limited by law, so it is important to act quickly. A claim can help you secure the compensation to pay for the medical costs and lost wages resulting from the injury.