When someone suffers a spinal cord injury such as paraplegia in a car accident, it has a resounding impact on the entire family. In addition to the physical, practical and financial challenges the family faces, there will be a rollercoaster of emotions, both yours and the injured person’s.
It’s common for paraplegics to experience drastic mood swings and to lash out at loved ones. It’s important for family members to develop their communication skills when helping a disabled person. You’ll need to learn how to cope with your loved one’s emotional symptoms related to his or her injury.
In Family Adjustment to Spinal Cord Injury, a booklet created by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Spine Rehabilitation Center, a few suggestions listed below offer tips for dealing with the strong emotions your loved one may express.
Be an Attentive Listener
Simply being a good listener and acknowledging your loved one can work wonders when helping a disabled person. Often, injured victims just want to be reassured that somebody cares about them and will be there to listen to their thoughts and feelings.
Being quiet and attentive during conversations with your loved one is the best ways to demonstrate that you care. Author and life counselor Deepak Chopra explains that “it takes a little bit of mindfulness and a little bit of attention to others to be a good listener, which helps cultivate emotional nurturing and engagement.”
Don’t Minimize the Pain
Starting out sentences with “At least ‘x’ didn’t happen” or a similar phrase isn’t helping a disabled person. Rather, it’s better simply to acknowledge his or her feelings. By just actively listening, which entails paying attention and paraphrasing the thoughts expressed to the person will help your loved one feel accepted.
UAB recommends using statements such as “You must be feeling very down today,” which will both:
- show your loved one you acknowledge his or her feelings; and
- imply that the negative may change in the future.
Don’t Keep it Bottled Up
Not only do you need to allow your loved one to vent, but you also need to be able to express your feelings. You don’t always need to put on a brave front or plaster a smile on your face. It’s healthy and perfectly acceptable to relate your true feelings when helping a disabled person.
If, for instance, he or she hurt you when he or she exploded in a fit of anger, say so. It will help keep the air clear and lines of communication open. “Two-way sharing of feelings is the best way of maintaining emotional closeness,” UAB explains. The key here is to avoid blame. A safe way of telling someone that you were upset is to name the feeling objectively, such as, “I felt ashamed when you shouted at me in public,” rather than “You always yell at me; I hate it.”
Everyone needs hope, particularly those facing extremely rough circumstances like paraplegic victims. New treatments are on the horizon, though, and each day poses new opportunities for growth and happiness. Just sharing positive news helps a disabled person.
The best outlook to take and express to your loved one is that you are there for him or her to help deal with the current situation, but that you will continue to hope and believe that better things are yet to come.
Legal Help for Denver Accident Victims with Paraplegia
If your loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in an incident that someone else contributed to, your loved one may be able to receive compensation for damages.
Those in or near Denver are welcome to contact our injury attorneys at the law office of D.J. Banovitz for a free consultation about helping a disabled person with a personal injury claim. Contact attorney D.J. Banovitz today for a no-obligation case evaluation at 303-300-5060.