By Trevor Pacelli
Dealing with the death of a relative is never easy for anyone, there are lots of mixed feelings, grudges against other family members, and doubts about the future. I personally have lived a charmed life up to this point, as no relative significantly close to me has died. I did lose an aunt to lung cancer about five years ago, and it was certainly sad for all of us, but I had no real personal connection with her. I also lost another aunt to old age, but it was not nearly as sad for any of us, for she had severe dementia and dying peacefully in her sleep was what all we really wanted for her.
While I would not be the expert in this type of issue, here is the best of what I can give for you to understand how one with autism deals with the death of a family member.
Half the time, a death can come very suddenly, like it’s depicted in this movie. It’s not like the person is at an old age and has a spot reserved in the nearby cemetery, rather a car crash, cardiac arrest, and public shooting can take your relative’s life away faster than you can blink. Change is already a complicated matter for anyone on the autism spectrum, but if their parent or sibling suddenly dies in an unexpected tragedy, all sorts of uncalled for changes take place. Now there’s nobody to carry out the essential duties in one’s day, nobody to carry on familiar laughs and inside jokes with, nobody to say “I love you” when times are difficult. It’s worse than a sudden schedule plan to what a person with autism does, it’s a complete absence of mental stability.
The solution to handling this sadly does not happen overnight, in fact, it may take months or years to overcome the trauma. But what anybody with autism most needs amidst a family tragedy is the presence of another family member who is still there.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #100: Never Stop Saying, “I Love You.”
They need to understand that while one family member is no longer there to provide comfort and joy, there are still numerous others around to listen to problems and show sincere empathy. If I lost my dad, I’d still have my mom. If I lost both, I’d still have my sister. If I lost all three, I’d still have my brother-in-law. There will always be somebody who loves you and will offer a shoulder for you to cry on.
But then there’s the countless other problems that happen as a result of the family tragedy:
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #74: Daddy Won’t Live With Us Anymore.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #74: Daddy Has a New Wife Now.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #74: The Parent’s New Partner Moves In.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but the death of a parent could almost certainly lead to getting a new stepparent and stepsiblings. It could even mean a housekeeper is hired to take care of things, causing all sorts of conflict.
There is no simple answer to how anyone, autistic or not, handles a change as huge as this, as it varies with the person and the situation. But when talking long term, as I said before, loved ones are still vital to the livelihood of one’s tragedy. Yet this is also a good opportunity to learn how to adjust to new changing situations, while setting a new routine for a new way of living.
Now this I am certainly an expert in, as I did have to go through lots of change. I had to change schools, places to live, jobs, and none of them were easy by any stretch. It certainly takes time (and lots of it) to adjust to a significantly new situation. Depending on what the change is, the new normal will always be embraced eventually. It’s all a matter of laying out what the new routine will be, and translating the old way of living into the new way of living.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
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Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.