When My Brother With Autism Approached Our Dad’s Casket

Death is never easy, no matter how old you are. When November 23 of this year comes, it will be 12 years since my father passed away from lung cancer. He was the first one to die in my immediate family.

Making arrangements and dealing with the loss was difficult enough, but trying to explain to my nonverbal, autistic and developmentally delayed brother that my dad was no longer with us was even more difficult. My mother and I were unsure how much he understood about death. We still don’t know.

Some people who have loved ones with intellectual disabilities do not let them attend the memorial service or funeral. My mother and I felt that my brother needed to see my father one last time. We hoped that he would be able to process his death that way.

The day for my father’s memorial service came. We greeted people who knew my father. Some asked what happened and we had to repeat the story over and over again, shedding tears every time. The minister spoke and then it was time. It was time to say goodbye.

My mother, my brother and I approached the casket. We all gazed at my father. Then my brother tried to lift my father out of the casket. It was almost as if he thought he was sleeping and he was trying to wake him up.

My mother and I almost lost it. It was a really touching and sad moment.

To this day, I wonder how my brother is dealing with my father’s loss, but at the same time, I’m worried how he will handle when my mother passes.

All my mother and I can do is put enough supports in place that will soften that blow.

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