5,348 members7,727 posts

Feel like a failure as a mum :(

Our son was assaulted last year and suffered a brain injury. Our lives have been turned upside down. It is like our son died that night and we have a new son that cannot function anymore. A comment was made that maybe it would have been easier if my son had died :( The awful thing is that I had given that a thought :( How bad am I !!!!! Despite everything, all the upset and turmoil, I am so thankful that my baby boy is still with us. Please forgive me for having these nasty thoughts...am I normal!!!!???? Had to put it out there, will accept any criticisms x

20 Replies

Yes you are normal. I am the one in our family who has the brain injury and I have had the noughts, and even voiced them, that it would have been better if I had died. But it would not have been better, easier in some ways, but never better.

Life is now different and every day is hard but bad things happen to good people. It is no ones fault, perhaps, other than those people who assaulted your son, I hope they were punished. I don't think people are aware of the consequences of their actions, until the reality of these occurrences are reported correctly and such injuries are portrayed correctly in dramas and soaps I'm afraid they will continue to happen.

I was watching 24 hrs in police custody the other week and a police officer said he had told his children they must always walk away in a confrontation because all it takes is one punch to ruin lives.

How true.

Please keep strong for your family and son in particular.

My thoughts are with you.

Janet xx



As much as I prattle on about there being no such thing as normal, yes, your thought process is completely understandable.

Again, I'm the brain-injured party in this instance, so my perspective is different, as am I, since the haemorrhage. I know that, at the very beginning of this process of adaptation to the 'different' me, I also had that "It would have been easier if it had killed me..." train of thought, and I know that, on more than one occasion, I voiced it out loud, which was exceptionally hurtful to others, but, in those moments, that was how I genuinely felt.

We can all explore if-and-but until the cows come home, but what we have to deal with, is 'now'. I don't mean the hedonistic notion of living only for the present, but rather the fact that 'before' is gone, and we have to move forwards with what we have left.

I was cantankerous before my brain injury, so it's taken a lot of work to re-work my 'usual' grump-grinch perspectives, in combination with the BI. It's quite difficult, and I know I have an impact on others, whether that's my visible twitching when I'm over-tired, or 'holding back' an in-the-moment response that's not situationally appropriate, or nearly crying because the milk-carton is too heavy for me to lift out of the fridge. It's awkward saying 'No.' when people wander into my office, and chirp "Oooh, it's dark in here, shall I put the lights on?", and it's difficult to be diplomatic when the powers-that-be decide to plonk someone at the spare desk next to mine, and they want the lights on AND to talk about what-was-on-TV.

Sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it's plain horrible, and, sometimes, the impact of dealing with it all, from whatever perspective, bubbles over. You're no more a failure as a Mother than I am, my son and I had a late night on Monday, and he could see I was exhausted as a result yesterday. "I'll make my own dinner, Mum, you rest."- I could turn myself upside-down and inside-out over all the times he's effectively had to step in and 'parent' me, because my BI has weakened and impaired me, but we manage.

You'll manage, too, and, with the right adaptations, you'll find a balance.

Much love to you and yours.


Yep, you're perfectly normal, nothing out of the ordinary at all. I'm the injured party here and I'm a totally different person now to the one who whacked his bonce. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like (and still is to a lesser extent) for my family.

Don't beat yourself up, you are normal

Very, VERY best wishes,



I think it's important to have a place where you can say things like this out loud without fear of being judged or misunderstood. Among the many difficult things about having a loved one suffer a severe brain injury is that you don't get any chance to grieve - you have to get on with the new situation straight away - and anyway it's hard to grieve for the part of the person you've lost without it feeling like a rejection of the person they still are. It's very very hard!


I was attacked in 2009 and had a bleed to the brain and weaknesses the left of my body I left hospital after 4 months I've had some bad patches over the years my boss treated my badly gave me no support and made me redundant, said I would never be able to do my job properly again completely lost the tiny bit of confidence that i had after my b.i I was depressed the smallest thing would make me tearful I felt so alone and useless, I sometimes felt that I wished I never woke up, but I got involved in my local headway who gave me advise, I went to a brain rehabilitation centre in Birmingham called momentum who gave me strategies to help with my short term memory and all the other things that came with a brain injury. It's 7 years on now and I feel that I've accepted my brain injury and that I'm a different person now, I obviously still have my moments With my moods, fatigue, but I'm managing it a lot better, the thought of wishing I never woke up barely crosses my mind. My mom has been with me through the good and bad times and I'm sure she would have had thoughts similar to yourself so don't beat yourself up.

Take care Matt


Yes as a brain injured person I have those thoughts ...... and still do as a single parent to my now 10 yr old son. I agonize often when I am struggling to manage ......that it would have been better if I'd just slipped away as was predicted when I was in a coma. However, the flip side is the enormity of the trauma that would have caused him and would he have had a better untroubled life without me or would it be too much for him to emotionally manage.

It is totally normal and understandable as a parent that you have those thoughts. It shows how much you love and care for him and if you didn't ponder such things that I think would be abnormal!

Very best wishes x


When my daughter was at the beginning if her healing journey she would express this very same thing. I never would have envisioned that I could have had these thoughts but I have. They are just thoughts. We are not our thoughts. It's important to express them in a safe place such as this forum because otherwise we end up in a cycle of rumination, guilt and shame. We all, carers and BI survivors, can be kinder to ourselves by observing how our thoughts come and go without harsh judgement. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to doling out blame and punishment. My inner bully is working overtime lately and it's taking its toll on my physical health. Have to practice what I preach now, eh.

"...and anyway it's hard to grieve for the part of the person you've lost without it feeling like a rejection of the person they still are."

Very well said, dedicated_daughter!


Thank you for all your kind words, you have been such a great help. I don't feel so alone knowing you are all there with your words and advice. You are truly wonderful people x


An obviously painful post to make and hopefully lifted some burden from your heart.

One thing that is seldom said on this board is that we (both survivors and family) have gone through dark days and thoughts and have largely come through the other side. We have our down days like everyone else but life goes on, its a different life now.

If you want have a look at walesonline.co.uk/news/wale...

Two years on he had improved even further

1 like

Yes you are totally normal don't worry. I'm 42 , nearly 6 years on since crash, have a daughter 19 now, my accident happened when she was 13 , she lost her mum like you've lost your son and I still think it would of been better for everyone if they had let me die. They put me on a life support as I was meant to die that night and I hate them for doing this , I mean hate. So no it's not just you thinking things,,, Iv done so well but I will never forgive them. I imagin it's even harder for my family xx


There is nothing to forgive Sam. Those thoughts are borne out of love for your son, and a natural desire to protect him from causing himself further harm.

Please try to keep in mind that, by brain injury standards, 15 (ish) months isn't usually sufficient time for adjustment and repair.

It's 4+years for me after a brain haemorrhage and I've just managed a weekend away for the first time, last weekend, & now I'm shattered !

It's the family who bear the brunt, and I really feel for you Sam, as a mother. But Cal has to learn by his own mistakes and adjust to his different capabilities before he can settle into his new persona.

When I was incapable of paid employment, voluntary work gave me back pride and a sense of purpose, and I ended up feeling equal to paid workers in terms of worth.

I'm so very sorry for the loss of your old life and the new issues you're having to deal with on a daily basis. Please do keep sharing your feelings with us here on Headway.

Oh and never, ever apologise for thoughts which events beyond your control have forced upon you.

My sincere good wishes to you and Cal. Love Cat xx


Sambo73 I'm so sorry for all you are going through, for all your son is going through and yes you are human or normal. The very healthy thing I see is that you recognized these aren't loving thoughts and feelings. That is a very good thing to recognize. It means you have a tender heart and a tender conscience, but please try not to beat yourself up.

You are so courageous to express and expose of yourself in a way that most will not. This also reveals your beautiful heart. We all say and think things at times that are not best, but I believe there is a most merciful God that will forgive us and all we have to do is ask. Also, please forgive yourself and just try not to say anything or allow anyone to say anything to or around your son that can hurt him deeply. Words have more power than we know. ❤

I can only imagine how hard this has been for all of you, but also keep in mind, though he is more of a challenge now, that he is having to deal with this from the inside out. What I mean, he is having to process from his own perspective and also how this is effecting those he loves. I'm sure, though this isn't his fault, he may also deal with the guilt of having extra complications. My heart goes out to you and I will lift you and your son this day in prayer.


sambo73 no youre not horrible. we are different after our bi s.....

1 like

Hi :)

Where do I start? The posts above say it all......thoughts are just thoughts, and you are immensely brave to share those thoughts because many people think things but aren't quite so honest, if only more people told the truth :) Firstly - everything you're feeling is perfectly normal, secondly you've been thrown completely unprepared into an unimaginable situation, and lastly please have a look at this piece below. It's not about brain injury but in many ways there are similarities. It applies to so many people trying to cope with a different life than they expected, not just parents. I'm sending you a private message as well so please check your inbox :)


Welcome to Holland

Written by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this…

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean, Holland?" I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.


I know it's a bit off topic as its not written about brain injury as such, but I find it very moving - it could apply to so many situations xxx



You're in completely the right place, hopefully this forum will be as much of a life saver to you as it has been to all of us. Keep posting...and if you look back through people's posts you'll see that the version 1 v version 2 of our personalities is one of the most difficult things to come to terms with...at least you recognise the reality of that - it will make it much easier for you to move forward as a family in the long run.

Hope you're doing OK today.



Hi sambo,

My prayers are with you and your son, you are perfectly Normal to feel like this too. Its a damb horrible world we live in sometimes and it can be truly unfair.

My families life was turned upside down when I had my accident in May last year but with counciling and a lot of love we have got through it and it did pass.

This forum is a fantastic place to get to know about brain injury and the experiences of others so keep coming back. God Bless. Nick XX


ANTs my neuropsych calls them - autonomous negative thoughts - those ones that creep in without you even having to think them, it seems. And if you spot them coming in and you don't do anything, before you know it they are everywhere... thoughts of 'I am not good enough', 'I don't do enough' or I should care more'. But there is only one thing to do with an ant - squish it.

I hope the fact that you showed us where your ants were getting in, and that we all donned our hefty boots to come and help you squish them, has got rid of the little blighters.

Despite everything, all the upset and turmoil, you are so thankful your baby boy is still with you. You said so yourself. So are we, and may that beautiful love and many more blessings besides continue to light up your lives.

1 like

My husband had the Brain Injury and yes I have to say I had the same thoughts that it would have been better if he had died. My children where only 6 and 9 when it happened and he was just so nasty to us all. His personality had changed so much. You know my old husband did die the day of his accident and I now had a new one. I had to grieve for the old and accept the new. 8 years down the line and we have survived. Don't beat yourself up about the thoughts as that's all it was a thought..

Take carexx


Sam do not worry. Its quiet natural we lose out wits during such pathetic situations.. Let us keep hope. How is your son now? can you explain the current status?


My son suffered a severe brain injury ten years ago, he survived major surgery and is still fighting each and every day to live not just exist. I am in awe of his courage and tenacity. He has changed, he is no longer the boy he was but he has grown into an amazing man :)

Do not berate yourself for the down days or negative thoughts. You are human. I was so angry in the beginning but I to learn to use that anger and learn to negotiate. Doctors, physios, therapists, assessment after assessment, social workers, colleges, university disability officers, expert mentors and neuropsychologists. You are mum and protector and advocate and defender.

Don't be afraid to question and challenge the professional opinions of others around you, be his voice and ask for the help that is there.

You will come through. Thinking of you, take care xx

If can help in any way, send a PM


You may also like...