Earlier, we met Ben and Ashley.
When Ben survived a near-fatal head-on car collision during his morning commute, Ashley, his steadfast girlfriend, took on a caregiver role.
During his time in a coma and as he recovered from a traumatic brain injury and multiple bodily injuries from the wreck, Ashley stayed by Ben’s side and ran his CaringBridge website.
The site swelled to hold thousands of views, comments and prayers—and, in a happy surprise for Ashley—connected her with other caregivers.
“I was isolated,” she says. “We were all going through it, but his mom had his dad. His brother had his girlfriend. Everyone had their person to go home to. I don’t think people realized how much it meant to have people commenting to me. It made me feel not as alone. I needed to know that people were thinking about me.”
“It made me feel not as alone. I needed to know that people were thinking about me.”
As time went on, Ben moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation center. They continued to receive love from family and friends scattered across the country, and their site also eventually reconnected them with the first responders and medical teams who tended to Ben in the critical moments after the crash.
“We connected with docs and nurses and therapists and first responders,” she says. “A lot of those professionals never see where their patients end up. When we started hearing from them, we were in tears that they cared enough to follow Ben. There are good people out there.”
Filling in the Missing Pieces
But they took it even a step further.
When Ben finally transitioned home, the first responders organized a reunion. They brought the ambulance to the house and told their side of the story.
“There were so many missing pieces for us. In my head, I can envision what happened, but I didn’t really know until I heard it with their words,” Ashley explains. “Hearing exactly what happened—that was closure. After that happened, we focused on healing and recovering and moving on.”
“Hearing exactly what happened—that was closure. After that happened, we focused on healing and recovering and moving on.”
And those weren’t the only steps Ben and Ashley took to keep moving forward.
Through CaringBridge, Ashley was befriended by other caregivers dealing with traumatic brain injuries, and she reached out to another young woman caring for a loved one with a brain injury.
“I don’t know what I would do without her. We were about 8 months ahead of her in the recovery process, so I told her, ‘I’ve been in your shoes, you can share anything with me.’ But she also helped me through dark days, knowing someone has the same thoughts and uncertainties I do.”
Moving On and Finding Closure
And now, the time has come: Ashley has handed the reins over to Ben to take care of his CaringBridge updates.
“I feel like a part of me moving on was not writing the site anymore. One day, Ben will feel the same way–he already wants to feel ‘normal’ again. I had dreamed of that one day that I wouldn’t have to do this. Don’t get me wrong: I loved doing it, I felt like it was my thing in his recovery. I am proud of it. But I’ve been telling it from a caregiver’s point of view—now it’s time to hear his story from his point of view. I’m so thankful he’s alive.”
It’s Your Turn
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