A journey through grief with autism.

Alan Greenwell

3-Minute Read


Now just to get things straight I am not talking about a competetion in what follows. I am talking about supporting my son and part of that is understanding his complex behaviour and seeing things from his point of view.

You win or you learn is an important perspective for me. It reminds me that even when I come out of a situation with Tam I have to be positive and find the best way forward with that attitude. When dealing with your own personal grief and putting it on hold to support someone who is struggling with their grief it is all too easy to become depressed and down. That does not help either party and in our situation it is a major hinderance to moving forward.

We have all been in a situation with someone we know when you ask them how they are and they smile back and say they are fine. In that moment it does not take a body language expert to know they are not fine (unless its the acronym of F*cked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional). The smile is false, the tone is depressed and slow and there is no belief in what they say.

Well, Tam picks up on my moods so quickly that it can become a downwards spiral for both of us. So what do I do? I try my best to explain to Tam why daddy is sad. It is pointless to try to hide it. He is too connected into how I feel and for a lie would not be told, the anxiety that Tam might feel because he is sensing conflicting feelings would be counterproductive and would increase his anxiety levels.

Now I am not saying that I have not put on the happy face mask and the jolly tongue poking exterior. I have. I used it as a survival tactic for a while. I managed to kid myself for a while with it as well. But I did not kid Tam. He saw right through it. It raised his anxiety, it made him angry. In the moment I kept it up, I put on the mask. I told him it would all be ok while inside I was screaming and crying and asking the question of WHY?

In time I learned that honesty with Tam worked better for both of us. He had seen me cry too many times and heard the lie “daddies ok”, he had struggled with the confusion and anxiety for long enough. I started to allow myself to tell him that “daddy missed mammy loads” and “daddy is very sad that Tam has lost his mammy”. Hard words to say when you don’t understand the level of understanding from a barely verbal boy.

The outcome of this difficult lesson is that Tam is more at ease with daddies grief, I am more at ease with Tams grief. It gives us a foundation for those sad mournful days and also for the days we laugh for the mammy that exists in our hearts.

Be good to the ones you love
Thanks again for reading.

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