As the last part of this series on grief I want to discuss why it is not only normal, but in the case of dealing with the Autism diagnosis letting yourself grieve can be the gateway to hope.  

Obviously, when parents are new to the diagnosis there is a great sense of loss, especially due to the fact that the parent is not yet sure how to master the new Autism environment. 

Often as a reaction parents go into a frenzy determined to research everything about Autism with the goal of recovering their child within a year. Sadly, this is not always the reality and caregivers may feel as though they failed their child.  A variety of emotions from withdrawal to rage may surface depending on the individual personalities and cultural norms of the family.

Depression, self-medication or over-eating, may become a pattern as the families coping mechanisms are tested.

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div. M.S.A. has a unique perspective on grief.  He describes two stages that he calls “Adjustment” and “Reconstruction” these stages occur after the family has sufficiently grieved the experienced loss.   In “Adjustment” the family can begin to let go of what they expected and begin to accept the status quo.  There is hope in creating new relationships and exploring new solutions.   It is also common for new routines to be formed in this stage.  Once the family has mastered “Adjustment” they can move onto “Reconstruction”.  In this phase the family is motivated by a desire to achieve what Fischer calls “Optimum Functioning”.  Many times in the “Reconstruction” phase the family gains confidence in planning and achieving small victories. This can strengthen hope and family moral.

Once the family can untangle themselves from the tentacles of the negative aspects that come with grief, if they choose to they can begin a new life filled with opportunity and hope.

 Once a person is ready, a type of “Conscious grieving” can highlight unique qualities about their unique circumstances and present a sense of richness with purpose to life.

Here are some quick tips for “Conscious grieving”

1.   Keep a journal and/or scrapbook- Keeping a journal on your feelings. This will help record what your heart is really telling you. Many people going through the grieving process find that writing is a healing tool of catharsis.   Sometimes scrapbook and pictures are icons of comfort that can be used in times of sadness. Pictures or words may reveal details that are helpful in providing direction in moving forward.

2.   Teachable moment- Be aware of what meaning you can find through your suffering.  You may learn a lot about what you value.

3.  Spring Cleaning - Times of grief are great for making permanent changes. Take note
of what is or is not working in your life and make adjustments accordingly.  
      

Starting from a place of grief is a start in and of itself.  It has no bearing on where you will end up.
Be okay with where you are today.
Once you are ready to take the first step, towards healing please remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” 


 


Comments

08/27/2014 12:26pm

our progress in opening nbcfb

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01/06/2017 1:17am

I agree that grief is the natural process that everybody goes through to get over that loss. Grief and loss, like death, are irrevocably part of human life. It is something even children experienced in a greater or lesser form. It is whether through the death of a pet, a family member, or changes such as divorce or relocation. Because no person is exempt from this often devastating truth.

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I had read your last blog about the part 2 and that was really amazing and great. Good grief is such a story that touches my heart and whenever I read its new part I actually read it more than one time.

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10/09/2016 12:38pm

I am sure you will help many people. It's so great that I found your blog.

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12/07/2016 5:49am

Happy that I've found all this tips! Can I share them? Want my friends to know all that too :)

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12/11/2016 7:22am

Parents often report that learning their child is autistic was the most traumatic thing that ever happened to them. Non-autistic people see autism as a great tragedy, and parents experience continuing disappointment and grief at all stages of the child's and family's life cycle. But this grief does not stem from the child's autism in itself. It is grief over the loss of the normal child the parents had hoped and expected to have. Parents' attitudes and expectations, and the discrepancies between what parents expect of children at a particular age and their own child's actual development. It cause more stress and anguish than the practical complexities of life with an autistic person.

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