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Brain Aneurysm Advice: Dealing With Grief

In the aftermath of a ruptured brain aneurysm, it is normal to feel shocked, confused, and searching for a way to make sense of what has happened. The grief process is unique to each survivor, and there is no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve for yourself.  Most people won't understand those that have been through a brain aneurysm like us. 

However, there are certain things that can be helpful.  When you experience the loss of yourself and your old life, it is natural to feel guilty, angry, or self-critical. These emotions can aggravate and prolong grief.  I felt like I deserved this.  However, it is important to remember that our brains are designed to help us make sense of what has happened and assign meanings to events. So, try not to dwell on irrational thoughts.  Stop second guessing yourself.  Take your time and allow yourself to learn your new life.

As you search for meaning in the aftermath of your loss, it is important to be mindful of the thoughts that you allow to take root in your mind. Irrational and harmful thoughts can easily take hold during this vulnerable time, leading to needless suffering.  If you find yourself regularly thinking irrational thoughts, it's important to try to correct them. Otherwise, they can lead to long-term emotional distress. Some common irrational thoughts include:

"I should be over this by now."

The grieving process is different for everyone and there is no set timeline for how long it should take. You might find yourself feeling better after a few weeks or months, or it might take much longer. Don't put unrealistic pressure on yourself to "get over" your loss.

"I'm weak/crazy/stupid for still being upset."

There is nothing wrong with grieving your loss. It's a natural and normal response to a difficult situation. Allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling, without judgment.

"I should have been able to do something to prevent this."

It's common to blame yourself.  

Guilty Thoughts

Thoughts of guilt are common after someone has had a ruptured brain aneurysm unexpectedly. We may ask ourselves if we could have prevented this from happening somehow.  We may berate ourselves for not recognizing the symptoms. However, most people have no idea what an aneurysm is, much less possess the ability to predict one. Trained medical personnel have difficulty making a diagnosis without CT scans or other diagnostic techniques. So please be gentle with yourself if you find yourself thinking “I should have seen this coming.” 

Angry Thoughts

It is perfectly normal to feel angry after surviving a burst brain aneurysm, especially if it was sudden and unexpected. This is because, in addition to grieving, we are also dealing with the stress of adjusting to a new reality. Our brains are not used to processing major changes like this, so we may find ourselves feeling confused and angry. It is important to allow yourself to feel these emotions. 

This can help you to process the loss and begin to move on. However, most of us find ourselves dwelling on angry thoughts or struggling to let go of our anger.  It’s helpful to seek out professional counseling. A trained therapist can help you understand your feelings and give you tools to cope with your grief in a healthy way.

Grief is a natural response to loss, and it generally follows a predictable course. However, there are times when grief can become complicated. This can happen when the loss is sudden and unexpected.   In these cases, grief may be accompanied by feelings of guilt, anger, and confusion. If left unchecked, these emotions can lead to severe and prolonged grief. Often others won’t understand the feelings a victim of a brain aneurysm goes through. 

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to ease the pain of complicated grief. Talking to a professional can help you to understand and manage your thoughts and emotions. A clinical psychologist is trained to recognize irrational thoughts and can help you to deal with them more effectively. In addition, they can provide support and guidance as you navigate the challenges of grief. If you are struggling to cope with a sudden loss, consider seeking out the help of a professional.

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