Death is inevitable but so so tough to comprehend. It’s hard for a grizzly mile worn traveller like myself to cope with, what on earth is it like for someone so young. Especially when it’s now 5 major deaths in 4 years. He’s only 11.
My son living with his Aspergers finds comfort in routine and orderly plans. Bereavement doesn’t fit into this ordered and planned world. Suddenly the world shifts, things are never the same again. This complete paradigm shift seems to manifest itself as shutdowns in his processing skills. His fine tuned memory becomes vague and unreliable. Concepts and principles become just random jumbled images. Simple tasks become complex nightmares. All he can think about is that the world and his happiness will never be the same again. Completely lost in this alien world.
Another aspect of Bereavement is a sensory one. Our son constantly fights to control and deal with all the sensory inputs flooding his body every second, every minute, every day ….. hardly ever receding. He has talked about death ramping all these sensory inputs up several levels. Suddenly the noise in his head is louder, he can feel the heart pounding, his skin is oh so much more sensitive, the unsettled stomach becomes a whirling vortex. He is trying to understand death while coping with this sensory storm.
When Bereavement occurs so many worries resurface for our son:
- Fear of his own mortality. Suddenly every cold, every encounter with an unclean surface, every bump, every cough is a potential path to death.
- Fear of his Dads mortality. No backstop, no second parent. Images of sad kids in cold foster homes like Harry Potter or strict Victorian orphanages flood his mind. How many movies have this as it’s premise.
- Fear about losing special loves he will encounter in the future. Is the safest option to just shut the world out.
- Bad things keep happening so they must be the norm in life.
- Is it me. Am I to blame for this.
- I just can’t find order and rationalise things anymore.
- You learn to love, you learn to trust, then it is gone.
I think that final fear underpins everything. Trust in life for our son is hard to establish. He works so hard to build those bridges. Death smashes those bridges, breaks his hard fought trust.
We have started the healing process. Recommenced all the stuff which has helped in the past. But each time it happens the path to recovery becomes longer and more difficult.
The irony here is that this post is about our son (my only focus) and yet those last two lines (without thinking) are probably about me.
We now try to move on. The motto we have adopted is ‘each morning we dust ourselves down and go again’. Next post I will talk about some of the stuff which helps our son. More uplifting. More humorous. It has to be that way.