Aspies and bereavement. Do we cope with it differently?
Joined: 19 Aug 2012
I lost my paternal grandfather in March 2008 and my partner David in September 2008.
i was not diagnosed aspie then but I am wondering if Aspiers cope with grief differently in any marked ways? I know everyione deals with it differently whether they are AS or NT but I just wondered if being aspie makes us react differently to grief. i am currently reading Aspergirls but as yet I have not come across anything about dealing with bereavement when you are an aspie.
i would be interested to hear your theories ideas and experiences with grief at the death of aloved one.
Joined: 16 Aug 2012
hmmm, I can't speak for anyone else, but I am formally diagnosed, so...
I have discovered that for me, loss is initially followed by an intense burst of strength - I step up and help make sure everyone else is getting by, going way above and beyond what most people would/could do. Then that fades into a period of soul searching that everyone else probably can't tell apart from normal life with me. The next phase is absolutely nuts - I somehow reach a point where I start doing things that change everything. I don't even seem to see it coming, nor am I always even aware of what I'm really trying to accomplish until the dust settles. It's sort of like I get a big flashing, "Life is Short!" message from the Universe, and it takes me a bit, but I end up doing something extreme that propels me into some new phase in my life.
I have not discussed any of this with my doc, so it could easily be something I've concluded incorrectly. I should add a signature to that effect, I think =P
Joined: 18 Aug 2012
Hi, I think Aspies may cope differently with this kind of loss than normal people. I have heard this before but haven't seen specific published data on it. I can speak a little from experience. I lost my older sister several years ago in a car accident. We were both adults at the time, and there was a large age difference between us (13 years), which made her more like a second mother figure to me than a peer. We were very close although she had her own family at this time and I had been away at school for a few years. When she died, I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting for it to "hit" me. I felt terrible about it. But it felt unreal to me. The big wave of grief? It never seemed to come. The whole thing seemed too distant to me. I have lost other people in my family as well, but this has been the most significant one for me. I had not been diagnosed at the time. Despite not experiencing the traditional "grief", the whole thing hit me emotionally very hard and for a very long time. It's like the way it affected me, it impacted on me in different or nonstandard ways, if that makes any sense. I had assumed this was just something odd about me, but I have heard another autistic person describe something similar recently. Also when I've had animal companions that have passed, my grief is overwhelming and debilitating. It is hard for me to overemphasize this. I think it is a matter that there are no barriers between me and these companions, yet even as close as I was to my sister, there was kind of a veil of separation between me and almost all people. The only person I would put inside this veil is my partner, but I think I would have much the same reaction in bereavement for anyone else. Of course one never knows until they experience these things directly. I had felt very badly about this, however I don't really think autistic people should feel apologetic for being who they are and experiencing what they experience. I'd like to see more about this too. Hope this helps.
Joined: 19 Aug 2012
When my grandfather died I was sad but I didn't feel devastated because he was 88 and had led a full and active life. I was more worried about how my Gran would cope because they did everything together. other family members weren't sure she would cope either but she surprised us all as she is now 92 and still living in her own home. I became aware of my own mortality and seeing him in the Chapel of rest was my first full on encounter with a corpse. I didn;t feel scared though. I understand some non aspies can't cope with this and refuse to talk about it but I was able to. I had not been diagnosed then. I was not actually present at the hospital when Grandpa died.
When my partner David died I was upset. He died 3 days before his 56th birthday. (i like older men which is weird as I read somewhere that a lot of aspie women like younger men). I found it annoying with the standard reactions to a bereaved person ie they don't know what to say or they say "If you'd rather not talk about it." I always said "Actually I don't mind." I don't have a problem talking about death and have helped friends cope with the loss of loved ones by just being there. I had my moments when I cried and told God I hated him for taking David away when I felt there were people far more deserving of death by cancer than him.
I have never had pets other than goldfish and a budgie but I get upset when I see dead birds by the roadside and I curse the person who ran them over. I often take them home and bury them decently to give them some sort of dignity.
As I wasn't diagnoses as an aspie then I'm not sure I reacted abnormally (to the view of an NT person) but I got on with life.
Joined: 16 Aug 2012
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, US
I seem to have delayed or indifferent reaction to death at the outset. Death itself is an inevitable thing; everyone's got it coming. For a lot of us to simply see it that way is hard to understand for most others. Using the strength from this belief in a positive way, I also play the initial role of keeping spirits up (tastefully) and making sure everyone's support is acknowledged. This "rule" of valuing and appreciating life drives this, even though day-to-day social interactions are difficult.
The grievance process itself does, however, have it's moments down the road. These are when a memory crops from times of when the deceased enriched life with their strength, intelligence, beauty, etc. And it's those quiet, isolated moments that help me through some tough times.
Anyone else able to sense when the end is near for someone? I really wish I didn't have that, as it's extremely uncomfortable...
aspie-quiz: 151 / 47
Joined: 13 Mar 2012
I have really only lost one person who is somewhat close to me, my grandmother. We never got along, because she was depressed and drank her liver and kidneys into oblivion in less than 15 years (it's complicated) and I was the whipping boy. When she died, I couldn't handle it and started thinking she was poisoned because I could not accept her death. When the funeral eventually came around I was the only blood family member who didn't cry. I remember thinking that at least some of the family members were crying because they should be. I just decided to think about her life, the things she did, the good/bad consequences of them, and basically reflected on her life.
Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Location: Hanging out with my fellow Sweet Peas at Stalag 13
Joined: 21 Feb 2007
Location: North Mirage, Pennsyltucky
That you can fully grasp your concept of an "aloved one" is huge in my book. That is hard for me and always has been. I am no poster child and have yet to meet one.
Doesn't mean I don't feel, I do, but not always in the moment and damned if I know how it's supposed to work. I can tell you I still have "break downs" over things, people, events, I shouldn't, things that don't matter to most. I am callased by many standards, I suppose, but sensitive to things I have no right to, according to some.
I can move when they can't and I still don't know why.
Joined: 23 Aug 2012
When my grandfather and friend of the family passed away within 24 hours of each other I have to admit I didn't cry or get upset even though everyone else did at the funeral I was well I wasn't jovial but in my head I understood he has passed away and to remember him but crying wouldn't bring him back so I didn't I wasn't being callous I just in my head thought logically this doesn't make me a bad person for thinking like that does it? I do still miss them both though ...
Joined: 8 Aug 2012
Location: Under the Milky Way
Interesting topic. In my own case - being self-diagnosed (but extremely certain) - I do think I react with death and grief in a different way than most NTs. Recently, one of my dogs had to be put to sleep. Now, I should note that my family and myself are huge dog people and we loved her dearly. I remember the rest of my family crying and bawling, and I didn't shed a tear. My eyes were by no means dry, but I just didn't show anything. I felt somewhat bad about it, but I knew it was "her time to go" - she was very old, had a lot of health issues, and had lived an amazing life.
On another note, my grandfather passed away when I was a pretty little kid. That being said, I was relatively close to him, and he always felt a really deep connection with me. At the funeral, I didn't cry at all. I mean, I was sad that he was gone, but not extremely. I continue to feel a bit bad about this, as it's how I naturally felt. It's true, though, that he had some really serious health issues - and he was in a lot of pain before he died - and he had a rich and fufilling life. I even remember after he died my mum trying to explain death and things to me. I think she wondered if I never fully understood it, because of my lack of outward emotions - yet I fully grasped the concept.
I don't think that these lack of outward emotions were lack of emotions at all, but just not showing them.
Joined: 20 Jul 2012
I deal with bereavement in a very unhealthy way. I stop thinking about my special interests, begin obsessing over how disgraceful the human race is, contemplating homicide and imaging every person I see lying dead at my feet, covered with blood. By the time I snap out of this, I'm much more depressed than I was when my significant other died, and it then takes me months to start feeling positive emotions again.
Joined: 12 Aug 2012
^ I do this too. Thought I was the only one.
As to the death issues, I learned what to say and what to write to people, in order to seem more normal. I care about the people who grieve, but I do not experience it the same way.
I will do some artwork or something to mark the respect of a lifetime ending. Like spaghedeity, I understand it in my own way to be a message to Do Things, Now.
This is off the subject, but I react strongly to loved ones' hurting themselves or being injured in some way. It's like I want to take their pain and brokenness away and make everything the way it used to be.
Joined: 16 Aug 2012
I realize this may not be appropriate, but I just remembered I posted this after my grandfather died - my first personal loss. I can only barely remember those days, right before that first time I didn't even KNOW I was about to change everything... It is clear that I was grieving - it was almost three weeks after he passed - and I even mention having tears in my eyes. Perhaps I used that phrase because when I write for others I often use words specifically chosen to express an idea, even when I would not use those words to describe the situation inside my head. Or, perhaps, I was crying - I do remember crying several times, although I remember it as being more about unfairness. I ached at how unjust it was that it would be him with all the mental acuity he'd ever had to pass first, and Grandma - whose Alzheimers was so advanced that insisting on caring for her gave Granddaddy the ulcer that bled into his belly and killed him - was long gone with a weak vaguely recognizable shell in her place. That ache is still there, so perhaps I've suppressed something.
Anyway, here it is, I hope it's pertinent or at least helpful - I had it titled 'Cold Comfort'
I've never been much for church services and the like, but I recognize the need some people have, and I also appreciate the strength they find in all that. I am careful not to offend anyone in situations like this, but now that I'm alone with my thoughts, I find myself wishing that people worried a little more about this world rather than the next.
I mean, people who think atheist is some kind of dirty word are always wondering what a nonbeliever says to their dying grandmother, or to a person who has just suffered a loss. This atheist sat with my grandma the night Granddaddy died and thumbed through Psalms to the one I knew she'd like to hear. At his church service, I sang (badly) with 'In the Garden' and recited the Lord's Prayer right along with everyone else - but I was not comforted. I've been taking my grandmother to church, and had countless parishioners tell me how much happier he is now, how wonderful his 'life' will be, and I thank them politely with tears in my eyes - but I am not comforted.
All the talk of how much better off the dead are, how they sit with the Lord, how He giveth and taketh away - it might be a source of strength for many, but it's no comfort to me. I prefer to think about the good he did in his life, the people he touched, the things he accomplished. I would hurt so much less right now if I knew that my grandfather knows we're taking good care of his wife. I'd love to think that right now in heaven, Betsy Carlin is chatting it up with Kurt Vonnegut, and that I'm making her proud. I don't have those beliefs to make these times any easier. I nod and smile and hope I'm saying the right things, but my heart hurts. I am grateful to those who celebrate the lives of those we've lost - the light they've brought into this world reflects from everyone they touched, and *that* is comforting.
I'm just trying to get through all this intact, provide what small comforts I can to those around me, and hoping that by doing the next right thing I will someday die content that my life was not wasted. Don't think of atheists as nihilists. We love and lose and hurt just like the rest of you. We take comfort where we can find it, in a life well lived and the memories of those left behind.
Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Location: Hanging out with my fellow Sweet Peas at Stalag 13
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