Community Support after TBI

Lethan Candlish Part Seven

community support

Lethan talks about the outpouring of community support and how important having support is to recovery.

The key to reintegrating into the community after a TBI is community support. In a town as small as Bloomsburg, everyone knew about Lethan’s brain injury. The community poured out its support to Lethan and his family. His parents were grateful for all of the help, love, and support.

In Who Am I Again, Lethan reenacts the decision his parents made to host a prayer service in the hospital chapel. They told a few people at their church and hoped word would spread. When the evening of the service came, the chapel was filled with people. They brought in more chairs. People were even standing in the back. The room was filled, but no one knew what to do.

His parents decided to run the service in a particular way where the group was silent until someone decided to share a thought or a memory. The group was awkward at first. It was silent for the first 35 minutes. Did his parents make a mistake? Should they end the service early?

All of a sudden, Susan, one of Lethan’s friends, felt moved and stood up to share a memory. Her decision to share opened up the floodgates and stories began to pour from the group of people. “People began to laugh, began to smile and a transformation from a service of sorrows to a celebration of love, of life and of community,” Lethan said. “And the next morning I woke from my coma.”

The community support was also shown on New Year’s Eve. He walked around the big Y2K celebration with his parents, seeing people from the community and thanking them for their outpouring of support.

In our interview with Lethan, he said that to find a community support group that accepted him as he was then was very important. This could be anything from church to a basketball team.

Some of Lethan’s friends did not know how to interact with him after the injury. This is why Lethan thinks it’s important to educate the public about brain injury. “It’s kind of one of those out of sight out of mind things is kind of the thought process,” he said. 

See our next post about relearning to walk.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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