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Losing a Parent as an Autistic Adult

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Losing a parent is never easy, no matter how old you are. They are the ones who raised you, and have been there every step of the way, in most cases. As an autistic, it has changed my life immensely.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer on Valentine’s Day, just as we were wrapping things up after my grandma had passed three days after Christmas. My family and I were in disbelief. Over the course of the next six months, he seemed to be holding on well, and the chemo was apparently helping. About three weeks ago, it was apparent that my dad was becoming weaker with each passing day. He requested to be transferred to Hospice last Saturday.

After visits from several family members and friends, my dad passed away on Monday, July 16. While we were all prepared for the worst, I was still stricken with tears once the nurse had proclaimed he no longer had a heartbeat.

Over the next week, life was extremely busy. My mom, my brother, and I had a wake and a funeral to plan. My dad’s wake was Thursday, and we were very pleased by how many people showed up to pay their respects. My dad had a huge fan club! Friday was the funeral, and we all felt my dad could not have had a nicer send-off.

As I grieve, I realize that one thing this means for me is lots of changes. It will be just my mom and me now, and I am going to stay strong for her, and help her out as much as she helps me. I told her I’m not going anywhere.

My parents have always been my rock, especially in helping me with my autism assessment and supporting me in my journey. Without my dad here, things are going to be really different. I still look at his chair in the living room, expecting to see him sitting there. While I realize he’s not coming back, a part of me still feels as if he’s on vacation somewhere and will be returning. It’s all still so surreal.

My dad has always helped me out, whether it was by giving me financial advice, helping me to manage my money, giving me reminders here and there, or offering moral support. As an autistic who, albeit being 35 years old, still needs a little support in these areas here and there, this will be a huge adjustment I will have to get used to.

I’m going to keep following one of my favorite mottoes: one day at a time. It’s how I’ve always lived, and how I need to get through this rocky period. While it’s not going to be easy, there are a few things that are getting me through it: I know my dad is now at peace and now longer suffering. I know he’s in a better place. I know he’s always watching over us. I feel at peace knowing these things, and I know he would want us to feel at peace, and continue to live our lives to the fullest. I’m going to do so, and keep on keepin’ on!

Getty image by Akinshin.

Originally published: August 21, 2018
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