Below is an important excerpt from Safeminds. As we age, as our children age, death will visit more frequently. Intellectually disabled or not,, the social differences of autism must affect the ability to process grief. How could they not? With thinking patterns that tend to black and white, and routine is paramount, having a loved one disappear without context must be devastating. Some families might want to shield their loved one from grief by not including them in family burial rituals. With the best of intentions. Or because a person with autism could be distracting during services. True story, when my Dad died a month after Dan Olmsted in 2017, I brought my girls to his funeral at the National Cemetery on Cape Cod. He'd been cremated, and the box filled with his ashes sat on stone altar/table. My brother read his favorite poem (The Day is Done by Longfellow), military personnel were on hand, and a bugler played taps. And then? Gianna belted out GRANDPY IS IN THE BOX!!! I looked at my Mom, who was locked arm and arm in my brother for support. I mouthed, "I'm sorry." But you know what? Everyone gave a hearty laugh and bonded in the moment. I still use that phrase with my girls, "Grandpy died, and he went to heaven. Grandpy was in the box." Meet them where they are.
But loss grief is not just a function of death. People leave for other reasons. School ends. People move. I am divorced. I've used Sesame Street songs and skits. “Mom's tree is over there back there is Daddy's tree, they live in different places but they both love me...." How do you explain when 8 overnights a month 5 years ago is now 0 as Dad's tree has moved further and further away? I embedded the darling video at the end of this post. It's hard for me to know how they grieve but I always operated under the assumption that they needed help to understand. And to feel safe and secure. I'm proud of how they have managed. How have you addressed grief with your loved one?
Excluding Kids with Needs from the Concept of Death and Death Rituals Can Be Detrimental
Last month, SafeMinds Shares discussed the concept of complicated grief. Specifically, we reported how this type of despair is more prevalent in people with intellectual disabilities. This month, a new review from the University of Maryland, Baltimore has been published that adds to this topic by investigating the grief experiences of children with broader developmental disabilities. Read more here.
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From Skyhorse Publishing, by Dr. Joseph Ladapo. A fascinating look into the life of a state surgeon general and how his public health decisions provide a blueprint for fearless leadership and better national health policy.