So during this covid time our kids grampa or “papa” as we called him passed away.
He did not pass away from covid but he was fighting cancer and it just happened that it was during this covid time.
It was an extremely trying time for our family as he had to be moved from pallative care to an air B and B as they had restricted visitors into the hospital.
Through the past year we had been through his struggle and had been been to see him at the hospital at times when he was there during his fight.
So we had to prepare both of our children for what was to happen. Have you ever tried to explain death to someone on the spectrum? I didn’t have a road map to follow only my instincts.
Over the many months of illness, we explained it different to both of our kids. For our daughter, she understood more about disease so intellectually she knew more what to expect. For our son we associated the hospital with illness and we talked to both of them about it over the course of a year. It was not the outcome anyone wanted and neither of our children had much previous experience with someone close to them dying.
The hard part for everyone was the actual time he passed away to us being able to have a service for him. Many months were in between.
One way with our son that made sense to him was that when “papa” was alive we prayed for him every night in our prayers. He took over these nightly prayers. After he passed away, we changed the nightly prayers to pray for Grandma to keep her safe and well. Every night now, he prays for his Grandma. Also, we talked with him about Papa being in heaven watching over him. Although the concept was a little hard to understand, he got it.
We re recently had a memorial service for him. As a said, time had passed. I went over the procedures for going into the church and wearing our masks and the fact that we had to stay away from everyone.
When we arrived after we sat down, I just briefly whispered to him that we were there to celebrate Papa’s life. He just turned to me and said “yes Papa is dead.” Kids, especially those on the spectrum, just tell it like it is. Both our children were emotional at the service in different ways. Our daughter has trouble with her emotions which is something she struggles with.
Later that afternoon when we got home I had some cards I had asked Papa to write when he was in the hospital to each of them. I felt it was a fitting time to give each of them their card and note that they could treasure always. Our daughter started crying but she was happy she had this from him.
I believe that there is no easy way to deal with this. There is no “right or wrong” way either. I think as parents we just have to figure out what we think is best and go with it.
This is my experience with this topic.
If anyone else cares to share how they have handled this situation, I would love to hear your story!
We are all grateful for Papa and we miss him so very much.