Reinventing Oneself After Loss eBook

Reinventing Oneself After Loss eBook

Hilary Zayed

Of all the physical and cognitive losses after her brain injury, it was Hilary Zayed’s loss of self that was the least visible to others…but most painful for her. Her book explores her meaning of loss, the search for a new identity, and the reinvention of her “new self” with her new self-awareness. Art became her vehicle for self-exploration and self-expression, as she struggled to build a new identity and move forward. She shares her experiences (post-TBI) candidly, and her artwork speaks volumes about her passion for life.



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Full Description

Having done art exhibits, and learned much through her “discovery” of her new self, Hilary recalls the day that a horseback ride changed her life forever. Her personal story, along with overcoming one obstacle after another, has proven that her tenacity and heart have carried her through her adjustment to life with a TBI. This story is one of encouragement! Find vision for your own story through this inspirational book.

Item ROAL-eBook
ISBN# 978-1-931117-86-9
Pages 86
Year 2016


This is a personal journey of reinventing myself after a brain injury. I went from being a third grade elementary school teacher, a flute player, a mother of two grown children, a wife and a passionate horseback rider to being a person who needed to survive, recover, reinvent and most importantly, repurpose my life and myself.

This is no small feat in light of a brain injury that left me unrecognizable to myself, my friends and my family. I felt the void of no more horses. I couldn’t tolerate music, or any sound for that matter. The sensory overload of a school was more than I could handle for even a couple of minutes. I didn’t realize how many of my friends were related to the things I did. There were my horse friends, but I no longer rode and cried all the time over the loss of my life long passion of riding. I found it difficult to hang out with those friends whose conversation was about their fun and craziness while riding.

I had friends and wonderful support from my colleagues at school, but I was no longer at school. My music friends were people I went to play music with, but I couldn’t even listen to music anymore. So life became lonely. People vanished as my life dissipated.

In hindsight, some friends stayed around and others disappeared. In actuality, it was I who disappeared. Talking on the phone was difficult. I couldn’t get out and socialize. I was in and out of the hospital and emergency room, spending most of my time on the couch alone in my house.


Chapter 1: Recovery: A Time and Place for Denial)

Chapter 2: When Denial is Not the Main Issue)

Chapter 3: Recalculating Life After)

Chapter 4: Will it ever end? )

Chapter 5: Acceptance setting in)

Chapter 6: Still Reinventing)

Chapter 7: Is There An End To Mourning? )

Chapter 8: The New Meaning of Reinventing Oneself)


I have been profoundly amazed in my own recovery to discover a passion for creating. Through sharing I have found that others who are traveling the road of personal loss are having similar feelings and experiences even though their loss is so seemingly different than mine.

This book is an artful walk down the road of recovery. It is my road. However, I have found that by sharing my insights, amusements, spiritual growth, and challenges that others can see their own personal strengths, wisdoms and new ways to acknowledge their experience. This can lead to reinventing oneself after loss and thereby, turning around and helping others reinvent their self. May you move out of recovery and into a reinvented life.


Reinventing Oneself After Loss, a new book by Hilary Zayed, is a beautiful celebration of the power of finding a new passion and embracing it fully. The book follows Hilary's recovery experience and the art that has helped her regain her sense of self after having lost some of the things she held most precious after her brain injury. Hilary was a teacher prior to her injury, and has continued in that calling as a member of Brain Injury Voices and as the leader of our Friday art class. Her newest venture furthers her mission, as she uses the artwork created during her recovery as a way to share her story in hopes of helping others in their journey. The process is ongoing, as she describes in the chapter titled "Still Reinventing": "Continue to do what you enjoy doing and be amazed that the expedition continues on. Know that just as you think you have it all figured out you will be confounded by the next happenings, both good and difficult. So, pay attention to the constants in your life, the desires you have and the abilities with which you have been gifted. Look for ways to navigate this world and your journey. Take notice that plans change, so go with the flow. Remember to feel blessed to have inspiration all around and hope to translate that as a gift for someone else." More of Hilary's artwork can be found at her website Reviewed by Kellie Selberg, Marketing Coordinator, New England Rehab Hospital, Portland, Maine

Hilary Zayed has published a book entitled "Reinventing Oneself After Loss," but this book is far more than an average read - it's a work of art, a meditation, a reflection, and an inspiration for anyone who has suffered a life-altering loss. This oversized book contains large photos of Zayed's art - art she has created as she sought out ways to express her journey of recovering, repurposing, and reinventing herself after a brain injury.

It's no mistake that her artwork uses many raw materials as well as the raw material of her own mind. Each piece she creates holds its own unique meaning for her that she writes about in short but profound passages. I found myself staring deep into these works of art: mosaics and paintings, many of which include mirrors or shards of glass, fitting materials for reflective work, and wondering about my own feelings as I read about her experiences of grief, acceptance, and "sacred messengers."

"An artful insight" is the tagline for this beautiful book. It's one for your bookshelf. This is a book you will want to visit and revisit again.

Reviewed by Rosemary Rawlins

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