• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Asperger’s Grief and Discomfort

I don’t know if it my Asperger’s that makes me so uncomfortable around grieving people, or it is responsible for my diligently shutting down emotions to keep distance from my own grief, but I do not that I never know how to help others in this situation.  It is not that I don’t feel empathy, or that I am uncaring, but I may sometimes appear that way. I usually thinking logically—what has to be done? It keeps me busy, and I know that there is nothing I can truly to do help someone who is grieving so I look for something that I CAN do..with my two hands.  I can drive to the store, I can pick up groceries, I can make dinner, I can make phone calls—but I CANNOT make the pain go away, or bring a loved one back. 

My mother is grieving, and the loss of her husband has brought back all the loss of the past few months. Before this was already awakened several times in the night because I was dreaming that I was talking with my father. Then I would wake an and realize that I would never really talk with him again.  Then I feel panic well up, and push the panic, those feelings, (and most all feelings) away…far far away shutting them off.  I never realized before how much I detach from situations in order to not feel the overwhelming emotions that I don’t seem to be able to handle.

This past weekend has been hard. I know that I am over-empathizing with my mother.  I cannot imagine how she feels or what she is going through…not really, but I know that I feel panicked because it could be any of us. I could wake up one morning and have my husband just gone like that…and the thought terrifies me. The idea of everything changing in a heartbeat like that is overwhelming. How life is so fragile and so fleeting….

I have to take my  mother grocery shopping this morning.  She doesn’t’ really want to go, but she must.  There must be food in the house for her to eat. I don’t know what to say or how to comfort her when I get there. I only know that I can get there and physically drive her to the store and help her shop, and hope that for today that is enough.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.