Grief

Image by Francis Mariani

Sometimes I see various things talking about autism and grief. Since it is currently relevant to my interests, I figured I could take a stab at it as well.

Or, well, try to. I’m honestly not sure I can write much about this. Not because I don’t know about grief, but because when it comes right down to it, I only know about my grief. I am much more inclined to say “everyone grieves in their own way” than to say “people on the autism spectrum grieve differently than neurotypicals.” So really, all I can do is talk about how grief is for me.

I experience the same stages of grief as everyone else. As a quick refresher, the stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Also, as psychcentral puts it, “Many people do not experience the stages in the order listed […], which is okay. The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process — it helps you understand and put into context where you are.”

I also tend to be very aware of the aforementioned stages. I recently experienced the denial stage of grief. I was aware of the denial, I was knew that it was irrational, and I also knew that it was a normal stage of grief. Acknowledging all of that and allowing myself to feel it anyway is a very important part of coping for me. Not even just coping with grief, either. I do a lot of simply acknowledging my feelings and allowing myself to feel them in general. Or, well, I try to. Sometimes it’s hard.

I am very aware that I am ultimately grieving for myself. I have no way of knowing what happens after we die, but I am reasonably confident that one way or another suffering has ended. And yes, I know that there are mythologies out there that have some serious suffering after death, but I prefer to ignore those. So really, when I grieve I am feeling sadness (or anger, or denial, or whatever) for myself, for my loss. I am also completely ok with this. Being honest about my grief does not demean or lessen it in any way, because there is nothing wrong with being sad for my own loss.

Sometimes I need to grieve alone. Sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know which one I need. All of the above is ok, and it’s ok for me to bounce between them. The important thing for me is, once again, awareness (hm, I seem to be having a theme here). Even knowing that I don’t know what I need is a form of awareness, and I can make choices based on that.

Overall I don’t think that this is in any way particularly different from “normal grief.” When I experience loss I feel sad, I grieve. That’s just the way it is.

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