The Journey of Grief: Learning and Healing
On ASDNext, in the past, I’ve written about the loss of both of my parents. The death of both of them and my father being the most recent weighs heavily on my heart. My parents shaped me into who I am today, and I can only work hard to honor their memory. I must also understand that I’m not alone in this. Others have lost parents as well and dealing with grief is a long process, and for everyone it’s different. This month I wanted to talk about two of the most pivotal people in my life and how I dealt with both losses differently, and coping mechanisms that helped me through the process.
In 2009, the day after Christmas my mother died. When that occurred, I was so overcome with emotion that I didn’t know what to do. My mom was my best friend and losing her changed my entire worldview; I wasn’t able to see a future without her present. With that mindset during that 1st year of her death, I isolated. I didn’t feel like I could share my experiences and I didn’t feel comfortable either. That lead to a stagnation in the grief process. Not talking to anyone, family, friends or mental health professionals made everything related to her death much more difficult. I wish I would have reached out more during that time, but I can only move forward based on what I know now.
When my Dad died in February, I made an effort to stay in contact with family and utilize resources like therapy and counseling even if I didn’t feel like doing it. I continued to volunteer in my community and shared how I was grappling with grief with friends. I didn’t hide how I was feeling this time. I was transparent, and I also received support in turn. One significant thing that I learned is that people cannot read minds, sometimes you have to tell them and be direct with how you’re feeling. I cannot weigh which parental loss was more difficult, but I can say I’m addressing my Dad’s passing more constructively than in the past with my Mother’s. It hurts but I feel like I can work through it.
It’s also important to be gentle with yourself. I have a strong work ethic, and sometimes I put my needs on the backburner. Being autistic turns the notch up on sensory and emotional aspects so I had to learn that sometimes there are things that I won’t be able to do right away. Losing a parent can be life-changing, and it’s unfair to yourself when you don’t give yourself a chance to rest to process everything.
“Time heals all wounds” is a ubiquitous phrase, it’s vague without proper context. If you spend time healing and processing the death of a loved one with time things, come into perspective. You’re able to reframe certain memories and hardships to have a better grasp on things.
If you’re dealing with loss, remember that you aren’t alone. You have family and friends that can be there for you. Mental Health professionals, including grief counselors, can offer clinical support. And giving yourself the time you need to process all can help.