Autism & Dealing with Grief

If you just see the title to this post you may think that I’m going to write about the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. This post is not about that incident, though. Last Thursday, my grandmother died. She lived a long 89 (and a half) years and raised four children and helped raise seven grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Tomorrow, after 19 years apart, she will once again be resting next to her husband.

Grandparents Christmas 1982

My grandparents in their living room – Christmas 1982. Evidently 30 years ago I thought I was a budding photographer and took the photo from a kneeling position looking up – no, my grandparents were not giants.

My grandmother lived about 1.5 hours away from us and my kids saw her several times a year so while she wasn’t a physical part of our daily lives, they knew her and spent quite a bit of time playing at her house – in the same places that I played at while growing up.

Alex seems to be okay with her death, he got a little teary-eyed when I told her but that was it. Ava, on the other hand, has had several weepy moments over the past few days and I reassure her that grandma had a long happy life and that she is in a good place now.

I’m a little nervous about the funeral services tomorrow. I haven’t been to a funeral since my grandfather’s service in 1993. My other grandfather passed away on September 13, 2001 and I was out-of-state with a newborn at the time so I couldn’t make it home to the funeral due to 9/11 flight restrictions.

I didn’t do so well at my grandfather’s funeral in 1993 but I was only 19 at the time so I hope that things go better for me tomorrow…you know, the whole “older and wiser” concept.

This nervousness also extends to how my children will react. They are 11 and 9 and this is the first family death that they have had to deal with. I asked for advice on The Autism Education Site Facebook Page and received some great advice from “True Anomaly.”

“Let’ the kids dictate the situation, by this I mean answer their questions, let them be the children they are and just be the parent you are… and purely a suggestion, for later in life, take a few photos to explain at a later time if the issue arises…”

That’s wonderful advice and something that I’m going to take to heart. I’ve explained the funeral, which will be closed casket, and the celebration of life we will have afterwards. My son doesn’t understand a “death party” but I told him that once he’s there, he would understand it better.


Do you have any words of advice about autism and dealing with grief?

About Melissa

Melissa is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum and strives to provide information about all aspects of autism through her blog, The Autism Education Site. Follow Melissa on Twitter. Like me on Facebook.

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby and The Autism Education Site, 2008-2014.