Brain injury survivors need to laugh at the things that happen. Even some of the most difficult times can be funny…at least when you reflect on what happened. Communication difficulty of various degrees occur with brain injury. This situation is an unfortunate communication barrier. I give details surrounding the situation so others can better understand what happens in the lives of brain injured survivors.
This situation tugs at my heart, but I know my mother-in-law would say “honey don’t worry about it”. My mother-in-law lived with us for her final 3 years of life but she was always active in our lives before we were married. She was a young 96 at her death, but engaged in daily activities, was mentally alert and took care of her own finances. We picked her up books at the library weekly. She kept a clear mind. Because of her age we thought we had everything planned for her funeral. The right attire, obituary, flowers, all she wanted…but forgot to give the funeral director a picture.
When she died, she was in our home. She had the most peaceful passing. I promised we would stay with her and she’d never be alone. She had no responses for two days and was comatose. I slept and hugged her in a single hospital bed in our living room as I promised. My daughter also cuddled and slept with her when I couldn’t in her final days.
Just before her passing she sat up, reached her arms straight out and called for my father-in-law who died in 1991, this was July 2006. This was witnessed by the entire family. It was amazing! We were so fortunate to witness this, and it brought new conversation of what we miss when people die alone.
She helped us pick out everything she needed so we felt prepared. Her final week was difficult, but it was the only week she needed significant care. Hospice came in the final 4 days. Her body was transported out-of-town and the funeral was preplanned. He asked to send a picture of her, but I had no energy left…and no one helped either!
When I was asked how she wore her hair I told the funeral director she loved tight curls. She loved curly hair on everyone and hated straight hair. At the chapel we went to view her body and I was horrified that her hair was straight! Oh my, I couldn’t believe it!
I talked to the funeral director and my husband. They both heard me say she loved straight hair. This is an example of how communication can sound so appropriate, but yet be so wrong after brain injury. I knew exactly what I meant, and I was sure that I said “tight curly hair”, but what I thought I was saying and what I said were two different things. This is common with survivors of brain injury. Communication can seem so appropriate, but it can be very wrong!
Moral of the story: There really is a permanent hairdo that can’t be redone! She was buried within the hour, but the horror lives on. I do know my mother-in-law is an angel and she accepts my last attempt to help her. She wore a bicycle helmet in our home, outside and any time she would walk because her fear of having to live with a brain injury … she never realized what it was like until she lived with us. So at 96 she still wanted to protect her brain and prevent injuries. Did I say“curly” or “straight”? It can’t be redone. This is a permanent hairdo, and it won’t grow out…at least in our presence!LOL