A message to my autistic community on grief and tragedy

In my experience, a large part of passing includes trying to mimic the way others respond to grief. It is in these moments, when emotions are high, that I have experienced some of the strongest backlash for behaving differently. Not expressing emotions outwardly or immediately comprehending the scale of a tragedy has resulted in being called cold or heartless.

This is not true. It’s not true of me and it’s not true of you.

I may not cry or exclaim loudly, but I feel heartbreak at the suffering of others. I may not engage in conversations about what has happened, but it isn’t because I don’t care. It’s because actively discussing something painful amplifies my feelings of outrage or hurt until I’m unable to escape them. It’s physically and emotionally taxing.

Typically, people discuss, debate and even joke as a way of processing intense emotions and as a way of feeling grounded when tragedy makes them feel disconnected from humanity. If that is not how you cope with strong emotions, don’t let others tell you that you are less.

You are important, your feelings are valid and you have the right to express them in the best way possible for you. No one has a patent on expressions of grief. We are all trying to find a way to live in a world with needless suffering.

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3 thoughts on “A message to my autistic community on grief and tragedy

  1. Wow. How did I miss this. I’ve been feeling guilty for years because of how I’ve responded to losing family members and a dear friend. While of course I’m devastated by these losses, I have a matter of fact outward manner in their regard. When giving my family history to a doctor, and mentioning that my parents are dead, he stared at me, and then stated that I was a “cold one’. I now feel validated in how I express my grief. Thanks for that.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have never heard anyone else express this before. Thank you. I have always felt so stupid for needing time to process tragic events, and for being unable to express my reaction right away, and I know others have been perplexed by the way I express grief, just because I don’t do it the way they do.

    Liked by 1 person

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