Elizabeth Kubler Ross is famous for categorizing grief into 5 stages.  She states that; “There is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.” 

Grief is your own unique experience. Please care for your grief as you would a small child that needs to be loved and nourished.  Feeling ashamed of your grief or not giving yourself permission to grieve will come back around to affect your life negatively in other ways. Your grief has a right to be heard and letting your inner voice be recognized will be the pathway from darkness into the light.

The five stages of grief created by Kubler-Ross are as follows:

Denial- Denial helps those that are in shock and need more time to get used to the news. It is a way of letting the news seep in at a slower pace and only letting in what one can handle.  It aides in helping someone function and as the denial is lifted acceptance begins.

Anger- Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process, the more a person gives themselves permission to be angry, the sooner he/she can begin to deal with the underlying pain. At times anger can be used to hold onto the past or circumstances that they wish existed. Do not fear your anger. Welcome your anger and your pain. It is expression that you love your child.

Bargaining-Bargaining involves making a deal with the universe that if they heal your child you will never swear again. It takes the form of a special arrangement with a higher power, but it is filled with “only ifs” or “could of”, “would of” and “should of”.  It usually involves feelings of guilt or taking responsibility for something the individual had no control over. It is also a way to stay connected to the past.

Depression- As the present situations begins to settle in, it is not uncommon for overwhelming feelings of sadness to accompany an uninvited reality.   Becoming withdrawn, dark thoughts, decrease in functioning, confusion and wondering are all normal reactions to abnormal situation.  Signs of depression are natural when faced with an overwhelming circumstance such as an ASD diagnosis.  These symptoms can take time to resolve themselves. Please do seek a mental health professional if you feel as though you are at risk to harm self or others or you feel as though you can’t function enough to care for your child. 

Feelings of sadness and depression are normal. Please be patient, these feelings do get better.

Acceptance- Feelings of acceptance don’t necessarily mean that everything is “Ok”. Acceptance is about learning to live with the new normal.  This may involve some life adjustments or changes in family roles.  Please be mindful that other members of your family may grieving differently than you or be at different stage of grief than you. Autism affects everyone, but may not affect everyone in the same way.

It is normal to experience these stages in any order or more than one at a time. I personally remember cycling through each one over and over.  It is normal to come to acceptance and then cycle through again.  The levels of grief may be different.  I still have days or moments when I go through one or all of these stages. Seeing typical children that are the same age as my daughter doing things that I know my child is not doing is a definite trigger.  Although, I may feel pain at times, I have also learned like with typical kids, it never does any good to compare. I have also decided to cherish the miracles of all that she has accomplished and celebrate those.  Once you see all the hard work that has come from your child’s seemingly small steps, it is easy to realize that they were not small steps at all!



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Grief is an automatic response. A response from sad and negative moments that happened to a person. It is natural. However, one should watch a person in grief because it may lead to serious cases like depression and suicide. As a person we cannot outrun it. We cannot pretend to be happy whenever someone left us. It is a natural response as a human being.

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