Dear Sisters [Smash Poetry]

This is a letter to all of the women who’s watching this video today who knows better than the Scarlet Letter (a letter that was worn by a person convicted of adultery)than their sisters.

THE SCARLET LETTER, Demi Moore, 1995, © Buena Vista

Dear sisters,
In my whole life and existence even when I began to talk and breathe that I struggled every day to trust wholeheartedly men and women especially men. From what we come to terms and face every day from bullying to body shaming to even a slut shaming other woman today.

I heard so many things from girls and women from a young age till the age they are at right now saying things like “I love her but she’s a dirty hoe,” “She’ll be much prettier without that type of mouth or nose,” “She’s not at all talented.” “She’ll never make it!” Think of the ratio. These are your sisters. We do not exist yet we try to really exist somehow in our own existence but not in silos.

I’m proposing you right now thst you are outgrowing your own team and opposition to one another. Your own experience or lack of each other. If we are all standing in belief for fighting for one another and equality. There has to be some form of camaraderie and bravery. So, this is a letter to every women who is watching who thinks they know or knows better than their own sisters in general to whisper about one another and backstab or showing such pure jealousy of their own sisters. There is no in progress when we march to a different beat of a song. There is no progress when we march in different directions. Correction here – listen up and listen closely! There’s no progress when we march in discriminatory sections.

White women show up for your sisters of color. Straight women show up for your sisters in the LGBQT+ community. Every women, yes you who is also watching this. Show up and have the guts to look at the differences in all women because this seems relate like the difference is thag it drastically of the question we ask ourselves is: ls it really progress? We need to question ourself or no progress at all? We can not afford to divide each other since right in the early days of what we were taught was to compare each other and to compete with one another no matter what it was or who it was. We will compete with one another to the very end to our own death. You are forever not devalued even if the woman you are sitting at or next to right now is to be perfect. But, let’s be real right now, there’s no such thing as being perfect.

We need to accept ALL our faults, our imperfections once and for all. You are forever not devalued if your sisters are achieving greatness and achieving much more than you. You are always of a greater price and value but don’t look at it as a price tag. If you value yourself,value you and only you.

Again, dear sisters, take a deep look and breath right now and look around you as well as in the mirror and see yourself a little clearer. Question: What type of woman do you represent and show for? Do hold yourself accountable for your own actions, sayings, and doings. Show up for the sisters that you might not know or even understand. Show up for those sisters who you might not even like you at all or even they may not like you at all. Show up for all of us.

For the unity and the choices, you will make, begins with you and you who you choose to stand up for. And, the choices in unity, you stand up for, ends with you also …. ….

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The Controversy over Autism’s Most Common Therapy- Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapy

CONTENT TRIGGER WARNING: This is only based on some of the people on the autistic community about this delicate topic yet I have done my own research and would like to share my own personal opinion on this.

CONTENT TRIGGER WARNING AND DISCLAIMER

I am no medical doctor, I am just your normal Jo Blogs, so if you see anything out of the ordinary, do seek professional help for yourself or your loved one or seek second opinion for yourself or your loved one as I don’t condone self-harm.

Without a doubt there has been cause of concern and cause to question about Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy largely by some parents with autistic children along with
the autistic advocates, largely because of a fiercely articulate and vocal community of adults with autism. These advocates, many of them childhood recipients of Applied Behaviour Analysis , say that the therapy is harmful. They contend that  Applied Behaviour Analysis, is based on a cruel premise — of trying to make people with autism ‘normal,’ a goal articulated in the 1960s by psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas, who developed ABA for autism. What they advocate for, instead, is acceptance of neurodiversity — the idea that people with autism or, say, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or Tourette syndrome, should be respected as naturally different rather than abnormal and needing to be fixed.

Sure, it may be working for some children with Autism and not for others. I will have to say myself that what you do decide for your child is up to you. This into what I am sharing is just based on some of the research I’ve done as well as talking to some autistics on the autistic community to share what and how they feel about it all.

“Applied Behavior Analysis has a predatory approach to parents,” says Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and a prominent leader in the neurodiversity movement.
The message is that “if you don’t work with an ABA provider, your child has no hope.”

What’s more, the therapy has a corner on the market, says Ne’eman. Most states cover autism therapy, including, often, Applied Behavior Analysis — perhaps because of its long history. But in California, for example, parents who want to pursue something else must fund it themselves.

Whether Applied Behavior Analysis is helpful or harmful has become a highly contentious topic — such a flashpoint that few people who aren’t already advocates are willing to speak about it publicly. Many who were asked to be interviewed for the article of SpectrumNews declined, saying they anticipate negative feedback no matter which side they are on.
One woman who blogs with her daughter who has autism says she had to shut down comments on a post that was critical of their experience with an intensive
ABA program because the volume of comments — many from Applied Behavior Analysis therapists defending the therapy — was so high. Shannon Des Roches Rosa, co-founder of the influential advocacy group Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, says that when she posts about Applied Behavior Analysis on the group’s Facebook page, she must set aside days to moderate comments.

Strong opinions on both sides of the issue abound. Meanwhile, parents like Quinones-Fontanez are caught in the middle. There’s no doubt that everyone wants what is right
for these children. But what is that?

A new view on Applied Behaviour Analysis:

Before the year of the 1960s, when autism was still poorly understood, some children with the condition were treated with traditional talk therapy. Those who had severe symptoms
or also had intellectual disability were mostly relegated to institutions and a grim future.

Against this backdrop, Applied Behavior Analysis at first seemed miraculous. Early on, Lovaas also relied on a psycho-therapeutic approach, but quickly saw its futility and abandoned it. It wasn’t until Lovaas became a student of Sidney Bijou, a behaviorist at the University of Washington in Seattle — who had himself been a student of the legendary experimental psychologist B.F. Skinner — that things began to click.

Skinner had used behavioral methodologies to, for instance, train rats to push a bar that prompted the release of food pellets. Until they mastered that goal,
any step they made toward it was rewarded with a pellet. The animals repeated the exercise until they got it right.

Bijou contemplated using similar strategies in people, judging that verbal rewards — saying “good job,” for instance — would serve as adequate motivation.
But it was Lovaas who would put this idea into practice.

In 1970, Lovaas launched the Young Autism Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, with the aim of applying behaviorist methods to children with autism.
The project established the methods and goals that grew into Applied Behavior Analysis Part of the agenda was to make the child as ‘normal’ as possible, by teaching behaviors such as hugging and looking someone in the eye for a sustained period of time — both of which children with autism tend to avoid, making them visibly different.

Lovaas’ other focus was on behaviors that are overtly autism-like. His approach discouraged — often harshly — stimming, a set of repetitive behaviors
such as hand-flapping that children with autism use to dispel energy and anxiety. The therapists following Lovaas’ program slapped, shouted at or even gave an electrical
shock to a child to dissuade one of these behaviors. The children had to repeat the drills day after day, hour after hour. Yet, as we we know that it’s important for us autistics to stim as this is an outlet to reduce stress and anxiety. I have shared more about stimming and its importance etc where you can watch here:

In these early years of the 1970s, videos of these early exercises show therapists holding pieces of food to prompt children to look at them, and then rewarding the children with the morsels of food.

Despite its regimented nature, the therapy looked like a better alternative for parents than the institutionalization their children faced. In Lovaas’ first study
on his patients, in 1973, 20 children with severe autism received 14 months of therapy at his institution. During the therapy, the children’s inappropriate behaviors
decreased, and appropriate behaviors, such as speech, play and social nonverbal behavior, improved, according to Lovaas’ report. Some children began to spontaneously
socialize and use language. Their intelligence quotients (IQs) also improved during treatment.

When he followed up with the children one to four years later, Lovaas found that the children who went home, where their parents could apply the therapy to some degree,
did better than those who went to another institution. Although the children who went through Applied Behavior Analysis didn’t become indistinguishable from their peers as Lovaas had intended, they did appear to benefit.

In 1987, Lovaas reported surprisingly successful results from his treatments. His study included 19 children with autism treated with Applied Behavior Analysis for more than 40 hours per week – “during most of their waking hours for many years,” he wrote — and a control group of 19 children with autism who received 10 hours or less of Applied Behavior Analysis

Nine of the children in the treatment group achieved typical intellectual and educational milestones, such as successful first-grade performance in a public school.
Eight passed first grade in classes for those who are language or learning disabled and obtained an average IQ of 70. Two children with IQ scores in the profoundly
impaired range moved to a more advanced classroom setting, but remained severely impaired. In comparison, only one child in a control group achieved typical educational
and intellectual functioning. A follow-up study six years later found little difference in these outcomes.

The methods promised parents something that no one else had: hope of a ‘normal’ life for their children. Parents began to demand the therapy, and soon it became the
default option for families with newly diagnosed autism.

“ Applied Behavior Analysis has a predatory approach to parents.” Ari Ne’eman

A touchstone

Lovaas’ Applied Behavior Analysis was formulaic, a one-size-fits-all therapy in which all children for the most part started on the same lesson, no matter what their developmental age.

Michael Powers, director of the Center for Children With Special Needs in Glastonbury, Connecticut, started his career working at a school for children with autism
in New Jersey in the 1970s. The therapist would sit on one side of a table, the child on the other. Together, they went through a scripted process to teach a given skill
— over and over until the child had mastered it.

“We were doing that because it was the only thing that worked at the time,” Powers says. “The techniques of teaching autistic kids hadn’t evolved enough to branch out yet.
” Looking back, he sees flaws, such as requiring children to maintain eye contact for an uncomfortably long period of time. “Five seconds. That was one skill we were trying
to establish, as if that was the pivotal skill,” he says. But it was artificial: “The last time I looked someone in the eye for five consecutive seconds, I proposed.”

I also shared a few videos about autistics doing eye contact is it worth it or not?
(Video reference: Autism/Why Eye Contact is hard for people on the Autism Spectrum)

Doubts grew about how useful these skills were in the real world — whether children could transfer what they’d learned with a therapist to a natural environment.
A child might know when to look a therapist in the eye at the table, especially with prompts and a reward, but still not know what to do in a social situation.

The aversive training components of the therapy also drew criticism. Many found the idea of punishing children for ‘bad’ behavior such as hand-flapping and vocal
outbursts hard to stomach.

Over the years, Applied Behavior Analysis has become more of a touchstone — an approach based on breaking down a skill and reinforcing through reward, that is applied more flexibly.
It’s a broad umbrella that covers many different styles of therapy.

Among the many variations now in practice include pivotal response training, a play-based interactive model that sidesteps the one-behavior-at-a-time practice of
traditional Applied Behavior Analysis to target what research shows to be ‘pivotal’ areas of a child’s development, such as motivation, self-management and social initiations.
Another is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a play-based therapy focused on children between the ages 1 and 4 that takes place in a more natural environment —
a play mat, for example, rather than the standard therapist-across-from-child setup. These innovations have in part stemmed from the trend toward earlier diagnosis
and the need for a therapy that could be applied to young children.

Each type of Applied Behavior Analysis is often packaged with other treatments, such as speech or occupational therapy, so that no two children’s programs may look alike.
“It’s like a Chinese buffet,” says Fred Volkmar, Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at the Yale University Child Study Center
and lead author of “Evidence-Based Practices and Treatments for Children with Autism,” a book many consider the go-to reference for Applied Behavior Analysis

As a result, when asked whether Applied Behavior Analysis works, many experts respond: “It depends on the individual child.”

Today, Lovaas is viewed with the same kind of respectful ambivalence afforded Sigmund Freud. He’s credited with shifting the paradigm from hopeless to treatable.
“Lovaas, may he rest in peace, was really on the forefront; 30 years ago, he said we can treat kids with autism and make a difference,” says Susan Levy,
a member of the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Without his passion, says Levy, many generations of children with
autism might have been institutionalized. “He has to get credit for going out on a limb and saying we can make a difference.”

Testing Applied Behavior Analysis

Given the diversity of treatments, it’s hard to get a handle on the evidence base of Applied Behavior Analysis . There is no one study that proves it works. It’s difficult to enroll
children with autism in a study to test a new therapy, and especially to enroll them in control groups. Most parents are eager to begin treating their children
with the therapy that is the standard of care.

There is a large body of research on Applied Behavior Analysis , but few studies meet the gold standard of the randomized trial. In fact, the first randomized trial of any version of
Applied Behavior Analysis after Lovaas’ 1987 paper wasn’t published until 2010. It found that toddlers who received ESDM therapy for 20 hours a week over a two-year period made significant gains over those who got the usual care available in the community.

That year, a report from the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, a source of scientific evidence for education practices, found that of 58 studies
on Lovaas’ Applied Behavior Analysis model, only 1 met its standards, and another met them only with reservations.

Those two studies found that Lovaas-style Applied Behavior Analysis leads to small improvements in cognitive development, communication and language competencies, social-emotional development,
behavior and functional abilities. Neither of the high-standard studies evaluated children in literacy, math competency or physical well-being.

The following year, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality commissioned a stringent review of studies on therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders,
with similar results. Of 159 studies, it deemed only 13 to be of good quality; for Applied Behavior Analysis -style therapies, the review focused on two-year, 20-hour-a-week interventions.

The review concluded that early intensive behavioral and developmental therapies, including the Lovaas model and ESDM, are effective for improving cognitive performance,
language skills and adaptive behavior in some children. The results for intensive intervention with ESDM in children under the age of 2 were “preliminary but promising.”
There was little evidence to assess other behavioral therapies, the review’s authors wrote, and information was lacking on what factors might influence effectiveness and
whether improvements could carry over outside of the treatment setting.

Levy, who served on the review’s expert panel, says although the evidence in favor of Applied Behavior Analysis is not all of the highest quality, the consensus in the field is that Applied Behavior Analysis -based therapy works.

“There is a lot of good clinical evidence that it is effective in helping little kids learn new skills and can appropriately intervene with behaviors or characteristics
that may interfere with progress,” says Levy. There are also other types of Applied Behavior Analysis that might be more appropriate for older children who need less support, she says.

Broadly speaking, the body of research over the past 30 years supports the use of Applied Behavior Analysis , agrees Volkmar. “It works especially well with more classically challenged kids,” Volkmar says — those who may not be able to speak or function on their own. These are, however, exactly the people that anti-ABA activists say need protection from the therapy.

Most experts acknowledge that there is a segment of children for whom Applied Behavior Analysis might be less appropriate — say, those who don’t need much support. One active area of research is scanning the brains of children to try to understand who responds and why. “Probably, as we go further down this path, we’ll see kids whose brains don’t change in response to treatment. They’re going to emerge as an important group,” says Volkmar. “We don’t know enough about them.”

Being able to identify those children who don’t have the expected neurological response — or being able to classify those who do into meaningful groups —
might make it possible to fine-tune therapy.

“One day, it would be nice to match the treatment approach based on more information from these profiles rather than one-model-fits-all treatment,” says Karen Pierce,
co-director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, who uses imaging to study people with autism. “If we’re more informed,
the treatment will be more successful.”

The pushback

In December 2007, a series of signs in the style of ransom notes started appearing around New York City. One read, in part, “We have your son. We will make sure he will not be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives.” It was signed “Autism.” The sign and others were part of a provocative ad campaign
by New York University’s Child Study Center.

The campaign unintentionally provoked an onslaught of criticism and rage from some advocacy groups against the center, which offers Applied Behavior Analysis . Many of the vocal activists once received Applied Behavior Analysis , and they reject both the therapy’s methods and its goals.

Ne’eman, then a college student, was at the forefront of the pushback. One major criticism of Applied Behavior Analysis the continued use of aversive therapy including pain,
such as electric shock, to deter behaviors such as self-injury. Ne’eman cites a 2008 survey of leaders and scholars in the field of ‘positive behavior interventions’ —
Applied Behavior Analysis techniques that emphasize desirable behaviors instead of punishing disruptive ones. Even among these experts, more than one-quarter regarded electric shock as sometimes acceptable, and more than one-third said they would consider using sensory punishment — bad smells, foul-tasting substances or loud or harsh sounds, for example. Ne’eman calls these numbers “disturbing.”

He and others also reject what they say was Lovaas’ underlying goal: to make children with autism ‘normal.’ Ne’eman says that agenda is still alive and well among Applied Behavior Analysis therapists, often encouraged by parents who want their children to fit into society. But, “those aren’t necessarily consistent with the goals people have
for themselves,” he says.

The core problem with Applied Behavior Analysis is that “the focus is placed on changing behaviors to make an autistic child appear non-autistic, instead of trying to figure out why
an individual is exhibiting a certain behavior,” says Reid, a young man with autism who had the therapy between ages 2 and age 5. (Because of the controversial nature
of Applied Behavior Analysis and to protect his privacy, he asked that his full name not be used.) The therapy was effective for Reid. In fact, it worked so well that he was mainstreamed into kindergarten without being told he had once had the diagnosis. But he was bullied and picked on in school, and always felt different from the other children
for reasons he didn’t understand, until he learned in his early teens about his diagnosis. He had been taught to be ashamed of his repetitive behaviors by his therapists, and later by his parents, who he assumes just followed the experts’ advice. He never realized these were signs of his autism.

Reid says he worries Applied Behavior Analysis forces children with autism to hide their true nature in order to fit in. “It’s taken me a long time to not be ashamed of being autistic,
and that only came because I got the chance to learn from other autistic people to be proud of who I am,” he says.

“There is a lot of good clinical evidence that it is effective in helping little kids learn new skills.” Susan Levy

The middle ground
There might be middle ground between critics and supporters of Applied Behavior Analysis , says John Elder Robison, bestselling author of “Look Me In The Eye,” who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at age 40.

Because of his late diagnosis, Robison did not receive Applied Behavior Analysis himself, but he has become involved in the issue on behalf of those who did. He envisions a place for Applied Behavior Analysis for people with autism — as long as it’s done well. That means a focus on teaching skills, rather than efforts toward normalization or suppressing autism-related behaviors: helping a child who could not communicate begin to talk and engage with other kids at school, for instance. “That is life-changing in a good way,” he says. Ditto an Applied Behavior Analysis therapist who helps a high school or college student become more organized. The emphasis should be on learning to function in areas the individual chooses, not on changing who she is, Robison says.

This approach will require oversight from people with autism, says Robison. “ Applied Behavior Analysis programs and practitioners are going to need to accept guidance from adult versions of people they propose to treat,” he says. “What was not clear in the past is that we are the clients; we [should] have a say in what happens.”

Advocates say scientists also need to be open to the fact that Applied Behavior Analysis might not work for all. There is increasing evidence, for example, that children with apraxia,
or motor planning difficulties, can sometimes understand instructions or a request, but may not be able to mentally plan a physical response to a verbal request.

Ido Kedar, who at 16 published his own memoir, “Ido in Autismland: Climbing out of Autism’s Silent Prison” writes on his blog that he spent the first half of his life
“completely trapped in silence.” Kedar received 40 hours a week of traditional Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, in addition to speech therapy, occupational therapy and music therapy. But he still could not speak, communicate non-verbally, follow instructions or control his behavior when asked, for instance, to pick up the correct number of sticks.
Kedar understood the request, but was unable to coordinate his knowledge with his physical movement. He was humiliated when the Applied Behavior Analysis therapist reported that he had “no number sense.”

Many researchers who study Applied Behavior Analysis welcome input of voices like Kedar’s. “I feel like it is the most wonderful, amazing thing to be able to talk with adults with autism about their experiences,” says Annette Estes, professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We all have a lot to learn
from each other.” Estes led two studies of ESDM for children with early signs of autism. She says the worst stories she has heard are not from people
who had traumatizing therapy, but from those who got no therapy at all.

“They have horrible memories of being bullied at school and [having] no one to help them or include them or help them make friends or handle tricky social situations,”
she says. “I get letters from people begging us to expand services to adults to help them learn how to date and be less lonely and isolated.”

To end this: there is not likely to be an easy end to this discussion, and in the meantime, parents must do the best they can.

ACCEPTING YOUR AUTISM (How to) (Comprehensive Guide)

It’s a fact that if we love ourselves first, we can then love others unconditionally. It’s important to love ourselves.

Being autistic can be rough. Or having any form of mental health and/or diagnoses for that matter. Yet, it’s up to us to how and what we want to do and achieve in our lives to get to where we want to be. While you may hear negative things about autism, as well as the stereotyping and stigma around this, we need to remember that this isn’t the full picture.
This video I will be sharing with you all today will help you come to terms with your autism in three parts and/or methods so you can focus on being the wonderful human being that you are.

Method One of Three: Seeing Autism Differently

What I share in this video as the three part series is a form of advice as well as sharing some parts as bit of my experiences of what I been through and learnt so far.

While autism is a neurological developmental disorder, we all have our own quirks and traits for our autism.
Autism does come with strengths and weaknesses and that with our strengths we can do great things in our lives.

  1. Learn about autism from autistic people.

    Too often, non-autistic people write about autism without consulting real autistic people.And, that for sure, can be a no-no and frustrating.
    They may come up with inaccuracies, laughable misconceptions, or extremely negative viewpoints on differences that don’t hurt anyone. Autistic people can provide you with a more accurate and well-rounded view. The Autistic community often describes autism in a neutral or positive light. This may help you gain a more holistic sense of autism, as opposed to seeing only the negatives.
  2. Read about the strengths associated with autism.

    Autism is a complex neurological condition that comes with several blessings along with its impairments. You may experience some or all of the following:
    Deeply passionate interests. These can lead to tremendous expertise, and possibly a very successful career or fun hobby.
    Helpfulness. Autistic people, in general, have a high sense of social responsibility, or the desire to solve problems and help others.
    Precision. It is often noted that autistic people focus on the small parts, rather than the big picture. This can lead to remarkable detail-oriented work, where a neurotypical person might be unable to focus so clearly on the individual aspects of something.
    Visual intelligence. Autistic people have tested higher on visual and nonverbal intelligence tests.
    Sincerity. Autistic people tend to mean what they say, and act as a “voice of reason” without becoming mired in social complexities.
    Your honesty and genuine spirit can feel refreshing to others.
    Creativity and a unique perspective. Autistic people can learn in unusual ways.
    This provides insights that neurotypicals may never realize, and can become a great asset in collaboration.

3. Read about successful autistic people.

Plenty of famous people have been diagnosed or thought to be autistic.
Strong special interests, focus, and a unique perspective can lead to innovation and creativity. Historically, Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, Mozart and more people were thought to be autistic. Famous autistic people today include Tim Burton,Susan Boyle, Adam Young (from Owl City), Temple Grandin and more.

4. Consider your special interests.

Image Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism

Special interests are a clear upside of autism: you have an incredible memory about these facts, intense focus,
and the ability to act like a walking encyclopedia of information whenever you want.
You also get to have a lot of fun doing the things you love.
Most non-autistic people would be jealous of the way you can recall and discuss information.

5. Read about the social model of disability.

Image Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism and artist MissLunaRose

The social model holds that disability is not caused by defects in the brain or body, but by society’s failure to accommodate and accept a certain variation.
For example, most nearsighted people are not disabled: they are fully accommodated within society (glasses, contacts), and have the same opportunities that non-nearsighted people have. Their body can’t do the same things, but technology makes up for that, so it is not an issue. (I will hope to share more later on about this topic of how it works and if it is accepted in the autistic community)

Method Two of Three: Helping Yourself

Iam who I am. I am more than my diagnosis and I believe I can do more things if I was given the chance to do so.
  1. Remember that it’s okay to be different
Never be ashamed of who you are as an autistic. Never be ashamed to stim in public. You are allowed to stim in public and that you don’t need permission or anyone else to validate your feelings for you.

If everyone were just like everyone else, the world would be boring. If we were to be like everyone else, then the world will be just pure black and white. We need to be able to express ourselves and be able to be ourselves and not be able to have permission from others to tell us or dictate to us in how we should speak, act or think. We are all unique. Your quirks are part of what makes you memorable, and you don’t need to censor yourself or try to look “normal.” These days we are all put into a box full of “neurotypical expectations”. We are born to be different and we are born to stand out and not blend in,I believe. It is absolutely okay to be disabled and to look disabled in public.

2. Find therapies and treatments that work for you.

Every different therapies and interventions will vary and work for some and not for others so that we need to bear in mind what works for us may not work for the next person and vice versa.

A good therapy will leave you better off than you were before, and you will gain skills to help you become more well-adjusted. You can also learn coping mechanisms, alternative methods of doing difficult tasks, and how to capitalize on your strengths.
Options include sensory integration therapy, talk therapy, occupational therapy, special diets, behavior therapy, and seeing a psychologist for emotional issues. Always check with a doctor before altering your diet or attempting an alternative treatment.

Always seek professional advice from the medical experts to know what is best treatments and therapies for you as well as also if need be for a second opinion, don’t be afraid to seek it out.
Image Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism

Be careful about behavior therapies. Some therapies are based on compliance and may hurt more than helping. If your therapist’s goal is to make you more normal (rather than more comfortable or more competent), or if you feel upset and anxious about seeing them, then find a better therapist.

3. Stop trying to do things that are too hard.

With the media constantly encouraging people to “do your best,” sometimes people forget that it’s okay to quit. You do not have to put forth 110% effort all the time—this can lead to burnout. If something is draining your energy or adding a lot of stress to your life,
stop doing it.
Sometimes saying “I quit” is freeing. Disability doesn’t just mean that there are some things you can’t do. It can also mean that some things are painful or extremely draining for you. Give yourself permission to quit or find an alternative way.
*I shared some advice and also some of my experiences based on this topic*

4. Focus on your skills and character strengths.

This will help you spend less energy mourning your disability, and more energy on doing positive things and enjoying your life.Spend time on your hobbies and things that you’re good at. Enjoy the feeling of competence and expertise. Make a list of your positive traits. Consider both personality traits and skills. Place the list somewhere where it’ll be easy to see when you’re feeling sad about yourself. Help other people. Prepare food for the hungry, raise awareness for important causes, or write about your special interest on wikiHow or even write in your personal blog. Effecting a positive change in the world will distract you, help others, and make you feel happier about yourself.

5. Practice self-care.

Being disabled can be difficult, and it’s important to treat yourself well.
Cut out energy drains from your life so you can focus on what matters most to you.
Pushing yourself to meet non-autistic standards will only take a toll on your health.
It is okay to ask for academic accommodations, take extra breaks, or quit doing things that are too stressful to achieve. Pay extra attention to general health advice: sleep for at least 8 hours, eat fruits and vegetables, limit junk food, minimize stress, and exercise regularly
(taking walks counts). Self-care is extra important for you, to mitigate stress and help reduce meltdowns and shutdowns.If you have trouble with self-care, it’s okay to ask for help. Assisted living, a group home, or living with family might be better for you.
Talk with a doctor, social worker, or therapist if you’re struggling. There’s no shame in meeting your needs, and it’ll free up time for things you love.

Taking dogs for walks are great for you and your pet.

Image: Image Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism and MissLunaRose
 

6. Get a mentor (or two).


Image Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism and artist MissLunaRose

Look for people in your life whose judgment you trust: parents, older siblings, relatives, counselors, clergy members, friends, etc. Living in a neurotypical world can be confusing, so it’s useful to have people to ask for advice. You can ask questions from “Is this outfit good for an awards ceremony?” to “This person makes me feel awful; what do I do?”

7. Stop apologizing for being autistic.

Feel the power of stimming. It’s okay to stim, don’t let others tell you otherwise.

You have the right to ask for accommodations, stim in public, and do what you need to do in order to function. Stimming is a release of anything that is stressing the person out. ( I shared this in my series which you can find the playlist from my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwQhEeI1u5Y&list=PLD1nCoeovTZ5uHWubHyUYcBAK_5t5Ud7o )

Toning down your behavior is your choice—not something to be pushed or coerced out of you. You are not required to act more neurotypical just because everyone else is used to it.
Try to stop masking when you can. Masking is linked to mental health risks. Try to be yourself more often.

8. Recognize that autism is just one piece of who you are—a kind, thoughtful, and lovable human being.

Image Reference: http:// https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism

People can love you and your autism. You can love yourself and your autism. You are not a lesser person. Remember that even though autism is part of you, it doesn’t define your entire existence. Autism is a significant part of who you are, but it isn’t all of you. A diagnosis is simply just a label. An integral and whole part of your identity, but a label nonetheless. You are so much more than autism, so embrace your non-autistic-related strengths as well.

9. Talk to someone if you are overwhelmed by self hatred.

It’s okay to ask for help or seek advice from someone that you trust. Never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and courage. Not asking for help and performing some act, is weakness.

Anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues are unfortunately common in autistic people as well as others that has any form of mental health conditions. Identify someone you trust and explain to them how awful you feel. If you think you may have anxiety and/or depression, try to schedule a doctor’s appointment. The doctor can give you a screening and perhaps some helpful medicine. You are not being selfish or burdensome by sharing negative feelings. People can probably tell if you are feeling awful; they just may not know how to help. If you tell them, this is helpful to them, because then they can know what to do and worry less.

Method Three of Three: Finding an Autistic Community

  1. Surround yourself with positive people.

Look for the people in your life who build you up and leave you feeling better than you did before. Make an effort to spend more time with them. Ask if they’d like to get lunch with you, or if you could get together this weekend. If you usually feel bad about yourself after spending time with someone, that’s an important pattern to be aware of. Figure out why you feel that way, and whether the relationship is worth maintaining.

2. Meet the autistic community.

It’s important to find people that we can relate to and be friends with. It’s also good to be around people once in a while and know that we are together in whatever we go through. Finding our neurotribe as they call it is important as we get older.

This can be done by contacting a friendly support group, or through a search online.
Learn what autistic people have to say about themselves, their symptoms, and the way they interact with the world. Autistic people, in general, are very welcoming to newly diagnosed or self-diagnosed people. Autistic people can offer advice and tips to those in need (and often do so, especially online). The general positivity of the autistic community can help you feel better when you are feeling sad or have low self-esteem.
*Again, I shared a little bit based on my experiences in this as well as you watch the video.

3. Avoid people and organizations that dehumanize you.

Some people and groups think that raising “awareness” for autism makes it okay to say horrible things. You have feelings, and you deserve to be treated like an equal human being. Don’t waste time on people who refuse to respect you.Use the block button or unfollow button on social media if an account is negatively impacting your mood or mental health. Mental health is important for us to be well and strong enough to get through the day of whatever arises. We need to have the right frame of mind and attitude to get through it as well. It is okay to cut toxic people out of your life, even if they’re family. You don’t need their negativity, and you’re much better off without them. You are not required to argue that your existence is worthwhile, and it’s okay to decide not to waste your time and energy on them. If you’re stuck with these people, you can either educate or avoid them. Educating them can be done by telling them about autism and making an appeal to their desire to be a good person. If you try this and fail, or if you know that they won’t respond to reason,
it’s better to avoid spending time with them and avoid autism-related conversations. You don’t deserve to listen to toxic ideas about your existence.


Image Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism and artist MissLunaRose

4. Get involved with positive autism-related organizations.

They will help you understand yourself better and make a positive contribution to the world. Many autism self-advocacy groups have a large online presence. You do not need to physically go somewhere to get involved. We all need to feel safe, accepted and wanted by anyone that’s a given. If you can’t find in-person autism organizations that are any good, try general disability groups. It can be tremendously relieving to spend time with a group where being disabled is viewed as the “norm”.

6. Make Autistic Friends.

Finding a person that we can create that special bond that is like us in some way can be a blessing yet we know that with so many of us autistics that we do struggle to make friends and maintain the friendships that are made.

Along with the usual benefits of friendship, you can share coping strategies, discuss autism together, and be yourselves without any fear. Look for autistic people in autism acceptance advocacy groups, special education (if you go there), or disability/autism clubs.

I made a video on how to make friends with someone who is Autistic which is called “HOW TO Be a Friend to someone who is AUTISTIC” in which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm-_ahSaU10

MY ADVICE FOR YOU ALL

*If you struggle with persistent feelings of sadness related to your diagnosis, tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, or a doctor or therapist. Never be ashamed for having autism. This is what makes a part of you- YOU.

*Some people think autism is a burden. You don’t deserve to be dehumanized by anyone judgmental.

COMING TO TERMS AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM AT A LATER AGE

This is going to be broken down into three parts of my videos based on this title of “Coming to terms with the late diagnosis of Autism.” and you can follow along to what I am sharing by clicking above. Part is Getting Support.

It’s a given that when we get diagnosed that many children will seek medical assistance and that ideally it’s known that autism is diagnosed by when a child is 18 months old. However, it’s not unusual to be diagnosed with autism as a teenager or an adult.
This is particularly common with middle-aged adults who come of age before mental health professionals understood and accepted the autistic spectrum. If you’ve been diagnosed with autism at a late age, it can take some time for you to wrap your head around the diagnosis. Once you understand more about your diagnosis, it can be liberating and exciting to learn the reasons behind some of your behaviors and explore the welcoming and supportive community of autistic people.

Here I am today, going to share with you all some tips and advice about this topic for you or your loved one that has autism so that we can together understand each other more. We are more than just having autism. There will be three parts of this yet will hope to try and keep it as short as possible. Let’s begin, shall we?

PART 1 – GETTING SUPPORT

  1. Join autistic self-help groups.

There are many autistic self-help groups that will enable you to talk to other autistic people and understand more about your diagnosis and how to cope as an autistic person in a neurotypical world. You may be able to find groups in your community that meet in person.
There also are many online groups if you don’t feel comfortable meeting with a bunch of people you don’t know. To find groups or online forums, contact a nonprofit autistic organization or peruse their website. They typically will have a directory.
Talking to other autistic people can build your confidence, especially if you’ve spent most of your life as an outcast. It can be refreshing to find out that there are other people who think and relate to the world just like you do Other autistic people also can share tips and coping strategies with you so you can better adapt and come to terms with your diagnosis.

2. Find out if you are eligible for government grants or other assistance.
Having a diagnosis of autism means you may have easier access to government support and disability benefits to help you manage your life. You can find out about assistance by contacting a government disability office near you.
Nonprofit autistic organizations also may have information about assistance and grant opportunities. The best organizations will have autistic people in leadership positions or on their executive board, and autistic people will have a strong voice in the organization.

3. Decide if you want to share your diagnosis openly.

For many of us after being diagnosed with any condition, that sometimes for awhile it will be a bitter pill to swallow yet then it can also be a relief for us to know what we’ve got to become a better person or version of ourselves.

Particularly if you’ve been diagnosed as an adult, you may not want to tell everyone you know that you are autistic. Before you reveal your diagnosis, think hard about the pros and cons of doing so. Many autistic people, especially women, escape diagnosis until later in life because they don’t fit the stereotypical profile of an autistic person.
Depending on how old you are, you probably have already learned many coping mechanisms that allow you to blend in better. This is good for you, but in terms of disclosing your autism it means that people may doubt you or not believe you. Keep in mind that people often have misconceptions about autism. As a result, they may say things that come across as rude or insensitive because you don’t fit the image they have in their head of an autistic person. Before you decide that you want to be completely open about your diagnosis and your identity, make sure you’re prepared to handle people who will have doubts or attempt to invalidate your diagnosis.

4. Seek accommodations at work.

It’s important for any of is with our special needs that it’s being met with the employers that we’re working for as our needs are just as important as to anyone that has them.

In many countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., autism is considered a disability within the national legal framework.
Your diagnosis entitles you to accommodations you might otherwise have difficulty getting.
Keep in mind that seeking accommodations typically involves telling people at work about your diagnosis.
Be prepared to explain autism and how it impacts your life.
Let your boss or immediate supervisor know of the accommodations you request.
For example, suppose you work in an office cubicle, and you have trouble concentrating because you can hear your coworkers talking on the phone all day.
You may request a closed office as an accommodation.
If they deny your request, you may have to take further action. Talk to a disability rights attorney if your request for accommodations has been denied,
or if you have been discriminated against by your employer after revealing your diagnosis.

5. Reach out to friends and family.

Reaching out to others no matter who and what they are deserve to be listened to and to be patient with them.

The people closest to you often will be your greatest sources of support – even if none of them are autistic themselves.
Spending time with people who love and care about you can help you come to terms with your diagnosis.
In most cases, diagnosis of adults or teenagers includes a questionnaire or interviews with your parents.
If this was the case for you, they already know about the situation and may be eager to provide you with any help that you need.
Your closest friends are people who have been through thick and thin with you, and they love you for who you are.
They likely will take the news well, and can help you decide whether to tell others, and who to tell.
In particular, lean on people who’ve been in your life for a long time. They’ve become accustomed to and accepting of your various “quirks,”
and they can be a breath of fresh air as you come to terms with your diagnosis, because around them you know you can just relax and be yourself.

Part 2: EMBRACING YOUR DIAGNOSIS on the series of Coming to Terms with late diagnosis of Autism.
  1. Identify triggers of over-stimulation.

    Many autistic people have senses that are either extremely sensitive, or that aren’t as sensitive as those of “normal” people. This can mean that some environments are uncomfortable or even painful for you. Sensory over-stimulation can be a difficult thing to understand as a child. However, as a teenager or an adult you probably have a good idea of situations or environments that cause you problems.
    For example, you may find that you hate grocery shopping, and that you frequently leave the grocery store frustrated or in a foul mood. Think about the atmosphere: grocery stores are frequently lit by fluorescent lighting, which can cause sensory over-stimulation for many autistic people. Grocery stores also have a lot of competing noise – shoppers having diverse conversations, overhead music, PA announcements, employee chatter, and the like. Many autistic people have difficulty filtering background noise, which can make all of these sounds occurring in one place frustrating if not painful.
It’s important to know what our triggers are for any given situation that we’re dealing or facing with so that we are well prepared for what is to come.

2. Make adjustments in your life.

Accepting some of the changes that can be made in our everyday lives is important. There will always bound to be a few situations that we may not be able to control yet, in all fairness we just need to know what ones we can and accept the ones that we can’t.

Based on what you learn about sensory triggers and other autism-related issues, you can implement changes that could potentially make a vast improvement
in your living environment. For example, understanding that your problem with grocery stores is related to sensory over-stimulation can help you identify options
that will make this errand easier for you. Adjustments you might make in that situation include wearing headphones and playing some soothing music or
white noise to block out the cacophony of the grocery store, or wearing sunglasses to blunt the effects of the fluorescent lighting. Over time, as you become more comfortable and gain a better understanding of your diagnosis, you will discover other things you can do to improve your life and your experiences with the world.

3.Recognize your strengths.

There are many strengths related to autism, including pattern recognition, strong memory, and intense passions Take some time to identify the strengths you have and learn ways to apply these strengths in your everyday life. Thinking about your strengths can help you come to terms with your autism diagnosis because it can help you to see that while autism creates some challenges, it also has its positive side.

4. Put your weaknesses into perspective.

Certain challenges, such as difficulty with social interactions, are intrinsic to autism.
Getting a diagnosis of autism can help you understand the difficulties you’ve had and provide tools you can use to overcome them. For many autistic people who are diagnosed at a late age, learning they are autistic is like a light bulb turning on in their heads. Suddenly there is an explanation for so many things you may have beaten yourself up over before.
Now that you know you are autistic, you can cut yourself some slack on some of the things that you might have thought were negative aspects of your personality before.
For example, you may have accepted criticism that you were lazy because you have the tendency to procrastinate and overlook certain tasks. However, autism explains this as poor executive functioning – you may see something that needs to be done, but your brain can’t put together the steps required to take care of it.
This doesn’t mean you can use autism as an excuse. Rather, identifying the cause of your challenges opens new doors for you, enabling you to discover different ways of handling those challenges that will actually be effective for you.

You also can use your strengths to find others with whom you can relate. For example, many autistic people are highly visual thinkers who process thoughts in pictures rather than words. You probably will get along better with other people who are also visual thinkers – regardless of whether they’re autistic. If you’re struggling to find a job or career path that’s right for you, identifying your strengths also can help you identify career fields
where you will have the opportunity to shine.

*SIDE NOTE- For many of us autistics this can be a huge relief and huge weight off our shoulders is now gone because without the label or even the diagnosis of autism and many other mental health diagnosis or just any diagnosis for that matter, we tend to think or shall I say we tend to overthink/over-analyse everything around us as well as thinking that there must be something wrong with us. We tend to question ourselves and doubt ourselves of our capabilities, skills and so much more like most people that goes through a mental health diagnosis. The questions that many of us ask ourselves are: ‘Why don’t my peers relate to me?
Why can’t I do these things that seem to come so easily to other people?’ You might start thinking you’re broken. But then, when you get the word autism, you realize there’s not anything wrong with you. You have a condition, and there are other people like you. Suddenly, you’re not alone in a world in which you were kind of alone for a long time.”

PART 3: UNDERSTANDING YOUR DIAGNOSIS

I feel that it’s always important to know what is going on with our body and to know what we’ve got so that we can become better and stronger in our minds and body.
  1. Talk to your doctor.
Doctors are the first call of action to see what is going on with us so that they can then diagnose or detect what’s going on if we give them some symptoms so then the next step after this will then do series of tests.

The doctor who diagnosed you should be your first source for information about autism and how you personally fit into the autistic spectrum.
They will be able to explain the diagnosis, as well as provide you with resources to enhance your understanding. Have the doctor go through the screenings or tests that you took in detail, and explain the traits that indicate you are autistic.
Go through the diagnostic criteria and consider how you identify with them, and which ones don’t seem to apply to you. Ask your doctor any questions you have about the autistic spectrum and the diagnostic process.

2. Read essays and books by autistic people.

There are a number of books, essays, and articles written by autistic people for other autistic people that can help you understand your autism.
Focus on books written by people who also were diagnosed late in life, such as Cynthia Kim. Loud Hands and And Straight On Till Morning are prominent anthologies of work by autistic people. Generally, you want to avoid books or articles by non-autistic people. They may have misunderstandings because they do not have the life experience of an
autistic person. However, NeuroTribes is a book that is well-regarded by the autistic community for its accurate and compassionate overview of the history of autism – despite the fact that it is not by an autistic author. When you find an autistic author that you like, find out if there are other authors, books, or websites that they recommend. Many of these books have a “resources” section in the back.

3. Fit autism in with other diagnoses.

Many autistic people who were diagnosed with autism at a late age have an extensive history with the mental health profession. You may have previously been diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) with other conditions or disorders. I have shared this before and I shared my story about being misdiagnosed which you can find on my channel and the title of the video is “AS DIAGNOSIS DENIED- DIAGNOSIS STORY”
For example, many autistic people who were diagnosed in adulthood were previously diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder.
If you have any of these diagnoses in your history, talk to your psychiatrist about whether you should continue to be treated for that disorder or take previously prescribed medications. On the other hand, there are disorders such as anxiety and depression that often co-exist with autism. Talk to your doctor about how autism potentially impacts those disorders or how they’re treated.
You may be on psychotropic medication for anxiety or depression. If you are, and if you like what the medication does for you, there’s no reason to stop taking it just because you were diagnosed with autism. However, if you aren’t satisfied with the treatment you’re receiving for other disorders with which you’ve been diagnosed, understand that these may be misdiagnoses. Autism also may present other options for effective treatment.

4. Consider starting a blog or a vlog

Do you enjoy writing? If you do enjoy writing, a blog can be a good way to come to terms with your diagnosis and understand autism and the autistic spectrum better. Many blogging platforms have active autistic communities. Even if you don’t yet feel comfortable writing yourself, you can still establish a presence on the platform and follow other autistic bloggers. Maybe, if you’re brave enough that you can put yourself out there on some other platforms as well such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many more.
You’ll be surprised to see how many autistic people out there that are doing this already to share the life stories and experiences with Autism. I’ve talken to some of them and some have been great towards me. Search under tags such as “actually autistic” to find blogs written by and for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people.Blogging platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr allow you to share the posts of others on your own blog, which enables you to save those posts you find helpful for future reference.

HOW TO COPE WITH LOSING A PET OF OUR BELOVED FRIEND

It is a given that we live a lot longer than our pets that we care for, cuddle and nurture and so much more with them that , it stands to reason that we will, at some time or another will have to come face to face with losing one. Whether you know it’s coming or it’s unexpected of the actual time to say our goodbyes to our fur-babies, it is a sad and emotional time. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with the loss.

Method 1 – Before Your Pet’s Death

  1. Accept your pet’s fate.

At some point, we all will need to come to terms with the mortality of our beloved pets. Even, if the Vet gave a certain diagnosis of the animal’s health and how long it is expected to live for – we definitely need to be
ready for that. Preparation is key. There are very few animals that, like pets, have the expected lifespan of humans.
If your pet is ill or is a “senior” pet, it’s a good time to talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s continued quality of life of what you can do for it to get comfortable and free from any pain.

2. Talk with your vet.

When talking with your vet, ask if and how much pain your pet is experiencing.
Gather every information that you’ll need based on what your pet is facing.
Knowing this will help you make the right decision for your pet, and knowing that you make the best choices for your pet helps you better cope with the loss of a pet.Consider the animal’s quality of life.
Ask yourself a few questions before you make the final decision if you do decide to let your pet go. Is (s)he in pain? Can the pain or illness be treated medically, and still offer your pet a good quality life?
Does (s)he have a good appetite? Is your pet happy?

Finally, give thought to whether medical treatment is financially viable for you.
For most of us, finances do need to be a consideration, albeit a very unpleasant one.
Based on the vet’s assessment and your own judgment, make the decision, with your pet’s happiness in mind.
If you’re not sure, consider getting a second opinion from another vet.

3. Take pictures of your pet.

You will want something to remember it by. Even if (s)he looks sick and miserable, it is very important to take photos and videos, as bittersweet as it may feel. In the future, you may wish to boast about what a wonderful pet you had, and you may want to show people what he or she looked like. Collect anything else you want to remember him/her by. This includes a favorite toy, a blanket, or a decorative element from a tank or cage. Consider taking a clipping of your pet’s hair. You can also dip your pet’s paw in a small bit of paint and place it on a piece of paper that you can later display after the pet has died.

4. Continue to spend time with your pet.

Despite, it’s quality of life it is reassuring for your pet to know that you’re there with them until you let go. Let your pet know how much you love him or her, and cherish every moment. They will know that you’re still with them. Animals can sense people auras and what their nature is like from when you first got them to when you’re about to let them go. As that happens, your bond and friendship with your pet grows. Pet your special one in all its favorite places, and above all else make sure s/he is comfortable. Talk and maybe even sing. Do things that your pet has always enjoyed, when still able, like letting curling up on your lap for hours at a time, giving plenty of time to roam in the yard, and eating yummy little treats. If there was ever a time to spoil your pet, this is it. Discuss your pet’s diet with your vet. If your pet is at an advanced age, a change in diet may make your pet happier on many levels – offering a diversity of foods and/or foods that are easier to eat or digest (and help prevent weight loss). At the same time, respect your pet’s wishes; if (s)he wants to be left alone, don’t violate your pet’s comfort. Let your pet have his or her way

5. Consider staying with your pet during euthanasia. (MORE LATER ON THIS)

I know many people won’t want to come to terms to put the animal down.
Yet, it has clearly shown that when you’re with the animal after it’s put down, they’re at peace to know that you’re with them. It is usually a painless and peaceful process for your pet, but most importantly you will be with your beloved pet in its last moments, helping to ease its way along. Remind the vet to give an anesthetizing agent so that your pet goes to sleep BEFORE the actual injection occurs that ends his/her life.
Holding and petting your animal can give you as much comfort as it gives your pet, and though it’s a sad experience, it’s one that will help you to feel you did all you could for your pet in this world.

6. Make arrangements as to what you will do with his earthly remains.

When preparing for the loss of a pet, you also need to prepare for all the practicalities that follow. They are an absolute nightmare if you’re unprepared – and may add to your grief and stress at the time. You want to ensure you’ve taken care of all arrangements beforehand. You may wish to bury it in your yard with or without a grave marker.
You can also have it buried in a cemetery or cremated.Or you can ask for their ashes once they’ve been cremated and then do a proper ceremony of letting go.

7. Give family and friends a chance to say goodbye.

Before your beloved pet leaves your home forever, let the people who’ve enjoyed his/her presence know that it’s not going to be around for much longer.
You’ve been given a chance to say goodbye, and so should they. Assuming your pet feels comfortable with people, getting attention from various sources will
make you and your pet feel more loved.

Method 2 – After Your Pet’s Death

1 Allow yourself to cry.

Bottling up your emotions is not good for you, and you will feel sad forever.
Forget all that nonsense that you’re not supposed to mourn an animal as much as you would a person. There was a bond that you cherished, and no matter the nature of the bond, it is missed.

2. Tell your friends about the loss.
You might send out a mass e-mail, but not to everyone in your address book.
Send it to those who know you well, and care about you. You will receive many responses that let you know others loved and appreciated your pet and will validate your feelings.

3. Remember your pet.
Don’t pretend you never had one. Even though it makes you sad, it is best to remember and cherish the memories, not ignore them. It may hurt at first, but it’s the only path to closure, and it’s the only way you’ll ever be able to remember fondly your time with your pet. This is a good time to make a scrapbook or post photos on your blog or homepage. Include pictures, stories, and notes about your pet.
Read “The Rainbow Bridge” poem online. It will make you feel better about your loss. Create some form of legacy for your pet when they’re gone to be remembered by.

4. Get on with your life.

Although losing a pet is very sad, it is no reason to shut yourself up in your house or go into depression. Your pet has always felt comfortable in your comfort, and the sooner you get back on track, the sooner you’ll be yourself again.

5. Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter.

While emotionally, you may not be prepared to welcome another pet into your home right away, the act of helping to care for a homeless pet,
a pet in desperate need of a caring human, may help with your grieving and sadness.

6. Do something in memory of your pet.
Plant a tree, donate to a shelter or college of veterinary medicine.

There is so much more you can do while coping after losing your fur-baby as it is quite similar to how it works with when losing a person that you’ve loved and cared about. The question is do you wish to get another pet after losing your first one that passed?

There are many wonderful reasons to once again share your life with a companion animal, but the decision of when to do so is a very personal one. It may be tempting to rush out and fill the void left by your pet’s death by immediately getting another pet. In most cases, it’s best to mourn the old pet first, and wait until you’re emotionally ready to open your heart and your home to a new animal. You may want to start by volunteering at a shelter or rescue group. Spending time caring for pets in need is not only great for the animals, but can help you decide if you’re ready to own a new pet.

Some retired seniors living alone may find it hardest to adjust to life without a pet. If taking care of an animal provided you with a sense of purpose and self-worth as well as companionship, you may want to consider getting another pet at an earlier stage. Of course, seniors also need to consider their own health and life expectancy when deciding on a new pet. Again, volunteering to help pets in need can be a good way to decide if you’re ready to become a pet owner again.

UNDERSTANDING THE STAGES OF GRIEF

Everyone experiences grief differently. Many people who lose a friend or loved one experience several stages of grief as they deal with a loss. Psychologists who work with people as they grieve have noticed the ways that people cope with the loss.
There are some commonalities including distinct stages such as denial, anger, and depression. There are a few more to name, but what you may not know is that these stages aren’t about the grief of someone dying, but rather something extremely different. There is now more to it than the five that we hear about of the stages of grief which I’ll
explain in a minute.

Types of Loss

Most people associate the word ‘grief’ with the sadness that surrounds the death of a loved one. Yet people can experience grief after many other losses, including a breakup, losing a job or a home, having a part of the body like an arm or leg removed, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or having to drop out of college.

The Grief Process

People go through a number of stages when they lose a loved one.
You may experience them in any order and any number of times. You may feel sad
at the beginning, move on to anger, and then return to feeling sad. The crucial thing to remember is to take your time to grieve. Allow yourself to do it in own unique way. Never let anyone tell you how to grieve or for how long. It’s up to you! Accept any help if it is given to you while you’re grieving.

What You Probably Don’t Know About Grief

Many people think that the stages of grief are about the loss of a loved one.
However, they are actually related to people who are dying, rather than a personal loss.
Dr. Kübler-Ross is credited with developing the stages of grief, but most people don’t realize that what she created was for people with terminal illness. She wrote a book called On Death and Dying. In this book, Dr. Kübler-Ross writes about the stages of death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Dr. Kübler-Ross interviews terminally ill patients and discusses how impending death affects a person. She writes about how the patient, their family, and loved ones cope with the loss.

She did not develop the stages to describe the stages of loss people go through when some dies, however, they are about what terminally ill people experience. The stage includes – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. After some time, people adopted these phases to apply to their personal loss, and they seem to fit well. Below you will find the stages of grief as a terminally ill person experiences them. They are also applicable to losing a loved one.
*Just as a quick note that not everyone will go through these stages of all of these. Some miss a few stages while grieving. This will only be for some people not all.

Kubler Ross Stages of Grief
Dr Elizabeth Dr. Kübler-Ross , a Swiss psychiatrist, introduced the concept of the five stages of grief in 1969. What are the five stages of grief? According to Dr. Kübler-Ross’ model, there are several stages of grief. Through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance people process their loss, whether that’s a terminally ill patient or a person coping with losing a loved one. She was also interested in the way people communicate their grief to others through their words, emotions, and behavior.

Denial

When you’re in denial about the loss, you try to convince yourself or others that the event hasn’t happened or isn’t permanent. You know the facts, of course. If your spouse has died, you might accept that it happened but then believe for a time that his death means nothing to you. If your parents have divorced, you might try to get them back together even after they’ve moved on to other relationships.Following a job loss, you might go back to work thinking they didn’t really mean it when they fired you.

Anger

Anger is a typical reaction to loss, and it’s one of the Dr. Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief.
You may be angry with the person who left you, or you may feel angry with yourself.
You might express the anger by shouting at people through sarcasm,
or by showing irritation at everything from significant letdowns to minor problems. This stage can also happen at any time, even after you go through a period of acceptance.
The benefit of the grief stages is that they help you deal with the loss and move on.
Anger can energize you to do just that.

Bargaining

At some point, you may find yourself bargaining, trying to get back what you lost.
This part of the stages of grief and the higher power help the person cope with the loss.
People often promise their God that they will live a better life if only they can take back what they lost. A child may promise to pick up their toys and stop arguing with their siblings if their parents will get back together. Bargaining is a stage that sometimes brings up uncomfortable discussions that go nowhere.

Depression

Next in the five stages of grief is depression. The depression can present with any of the symptoms of clinical depression. You may feel sad and cry often. You might notice changes in your appetite or sleep patterns. You might have unexplained aches and pains. This stage can be too painful in a breakup in a relationship and in the death of a loved one. If you’re moving through these stages of grief, divorce can seem like the end of your life, so it’s natural to become depressed. It is a situational depression that may soon pass naturally as you move toward acceptance.

Acceptance

The last of the Dr. Kübler-Ross stages of grief is acceptance. You understand what you lost and recognize how important that thing or person was to you. You no longer feel angry about it, and you’re finished with bargaining to get it back. You’re ready to start rebuilding your life without it.

Complete acceptance brings complete peace, but often, this stage is never complete. Instead, you might feel sad during death anniversaries or angry when you feel current circumstances would work out so much better if you just had that thing or person with you now. When you accept the loss fully, you’ll understand the stages of grief better.

The Seven Stages of Grief
Dr. Kübler-Ross refined her model to include seven stages of loss. The 7 stages of grief model is a more in-depth analysis of the components of the grief process. These seven stages include shock, denial,anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. Kubler-Ross added the two steps as an extension of the grief cycle. In the shock phase, you feel paralyzed and emotionless. In the testing stage, you try to find realistic solutions for coping with the loss and rebuilding your life.

Other Variations

There have been different grief models over the years. In addition to the 5-stage and 7-stage models, you may hear about the four stages of grief and the six stages of grief. John Bowlby, a British psychologist, studied the stages of grief and loss long before Dr. Kübler-Ross presented her five stages of grief. His work was with children with attachment issues. One of these, of course,is grief. Bowlby’s four stages of grief are: 1) shock and numbness, 2) yearning and searching, 3) despair and disorganization, 4) reorganization and recovery.

The six stages of grief s merely an extension of Kubler-Ross’ original 5-stage process.
The only difference is that the shock stage starts before denial. What are the stages of grief then? That is a question only you can answer. The stages of grief you go through might be different from the ones someone else experiences.

Getting Stuck

Sometimes, the grief process doesn’t go well. The bereaved may become stuck in one stage of grief, unwilling or unable to move through the process. In a worst-case scenario, the person can continue to be angry, sad, or even in denial for the rest of their life. When this happens, they usually need to talk to a grief counselor before they can move out of that stage of grief. Otherwise, the intense pain might continue over the course of many years. Also, they may miss opportunities to build a new life that can bring them happiness in the here and now.

Help When You’re Grieving

Grief counseling helps people who are overwhelmed after a loss. If they are stuck in one stage of grief, this type of counseling can help move them towards recovery. The counselor assists and guides you as you talk about the loss, identify your feelings, and separate from and learn to live without the person you lost.

Along the way, they will help you understand the stages of grief. They will support
you by providing information about grief in general as you go through the process.
They help you identify and hone the coping skills you’re already using. If the method
you’re trying to use for coping isn’t working out, the grief counselor can help you identify that problem and introduce you to coping skills that work better.

Real Men DON’T GRIEVE, OR DO THEY?

Men are the forgotten grievers!

A woman in tears, openly expressing her pain, wanting to connect with a male partner whose impermeable stoicism has left her feeling alone. A man, his heart breaking on the inside, confused amidst a world shattered by loss, locking his pain behind a wall of silence, unsure how to express vulnerability or to receive support.

Is there really a difference in the way men grieve and respond to loss? After doing some research it’s safe to say that I’ve known plenty of men who fit the stereotype: emotionally controlled, disinclined to talk about matters of the heart, as apt to seek out solitude as connection focusing on action rather than talk.

Men grieve far more than we show or discuss. One of the biggest reasons for the misunderstandings on this subject is that we don’t talk about it, and we do a rather poor job of listening when women try to share their own grief or prod us to talk about ours.

We almost never cry in front of other men. If we feel that a woman is “safe,” we may cry with her. But most of our tears are shed when we are alone, perhaps while driving our vehicles. In all too many cases, our hot tears become a deep-freeze of anger or rage. Most very angry men are very sad men.

But these were the surface responses of men whose inward experiences were far more nuanced, changeable, and multidimensional than stereotypes can capture or assess.
The real picture was more complex.

Still, it can be helpful to bear in mind, without being rigidly attached to, the perspectives of researchers and clinicians convinced such differences are real. This perspective suggests that, as a group, men tend to be less expressive of their feelings—with the possible exception of anger—and that this disinclination to disclose or process emotions may actually intensify during times of stress and vulnerability.

So it is with grieving. When a cherished pet is critically ill or has died, men and women will not experience or express their reactions in the same way. Failure to understand and accept our different ways of grieving can result in hurt feelings and conflict between partners and among family members during a very difficult time. There are big decisions to be made – whether to proceed with expensive diagnostic procedures or treatments, choices about euthanasia, options for care of the pet’s body after death. There are goodbyes to be said and there is grief work to be done. Behaviors can be misinterpreted;
needs may be misunderstood; expectations may not be met.

Male grief has certain characteristics that are important for us to know. Otherwise we may assume that, when faced with the crisis of losing a beloved companion animal, real men don’t grieve.

Like everyone else in our Western culture, men are saddled with certain stereotypes.
Real men are supposed to be tough, confident, rational and in control, not only of themselves but of situations as well. Real men don’t cry, aren’t afraid of anything and wouldn’t be caught dead asking for directions, let alone for help. Real men know exactly
what to do in a crisis, and they’re strong enough to support the rest of the family, too. Add to these stereotypes the assumption that, if a man doesn’t express thoughts and feelings of grief the same way a woman does (by crying or by openly sharing with others, for example),
then he must not be grieving at all. If the grief doesn’t show, it must not be there!

Scientific studies indicate clear differences between the male and female brain, not only in how it is structured, but in how it is used as well. We know that the left side of the brain houses language skills, while the right side controls spatial problem-solving skills. That the connective tissue between the two sides (the corpus collosum) tends to be thinner in males than in females may explain why a man tends to use one side of his brain at a time,
while a woman uses both – and why a man is less able to verbalize what he is feeling. Other studies indicate that from puberty a male produces less of the tear-producing hormone prolactin, leaving him physiologically less able to cry.

So do real men grieve when they lose a beloved companion animal? Most certainly they do– but they may do so in an instrumental rather than an intuitive way.

In general, men tend to put their feelings into action, experiencing their grief physically rather than emotionally. They deal with their loss by focusing on goal-oriented activities which activate thinking, doing and acting. Rather than endlessly talking about or crying over his lost pet, for example, a man may throw himself into time-limited tasks such as digging the animal’s grave, constructing a burial box, carving a memorial marker, planting a memorial garden, or writing a poem or a eulogy. Such activities give a man not only a sense of potency and accomplishment as he enters his grief, but also a means of escaping it when the task is done.

If a man relates the details of his loss to his closest male friends, it’s likely to be around activities like hunting, fishing, sporting events and card games.

Although a man may let himself cry in his grief over losing his pet, he is more likely to do it alone, in secret or in the dark.

Regardless of the differences, the pressures of grief are still present for both men and women, and the tasks of mourning are the same: to confront, endure and work through the emotional effects of the pet’s death so the loss can be dealt with successfully. Grief must be expressed and released in order to be resolved, and men need encouragement to identify
and release emotions, to talk about and share their thoughts, and to accept help and support from others.

Research

There is evidence that men are more likely than women to remain silent or grieve in isolation, engage in action-oriented forms of grief expression, or lose themselves in distractions such as work or throwing themselves into a new relationship. Research suggests that men appear to be more susceptible to developing a reliance on alcohol or engaging in risk-taking behaviors following a loss and are more likely than women to commit suicide following the death of a spouse. Some studies suggest that men are more likely to use the strategies of avoidance, intellectualization, and minimization when grieving and, although research is inconsistent on the point, they may have a greater tendency to somaticize emotional and psychological pain

Grieving men may be at greater risk of death when compared with men of the same age who are not grieving. Some believe this may reflect the impact of internalized
stress or the effects of poor self-care. Others suggest that men tend to have smaller social networks than women and more difficulty asking for and accepting support,
making them less likely to receive, and more likely to reject, encouragement to prioritize one’s health .

Theories about purported gender patterns among those who are grieving tend to focus on biology, socialization, or a combination of the two. Biological hypotheses range from the impact of testosterone and the nervous system to concepts drawn from evolutionary psychology (such as speculation on the biological basis of role differentiation).

Psychologist Judith Stillion, PhD, CT, articulates one of the earlier arguments on behalf of the importance of socialization. During childhood, boys and girls receive different messages that profoundly impact the ways they grieve, she says. Boys, she believes, receive four fundamental messages about what it means to be a man and what constitutes proper male behavior. She refers to the first as “the stiff upper lip syndrome,” in which boys are taught that men must be strong and stoical in the face of difficulty and are discouraged from expressing vulnerability and encouraged to accept pain without complaint. The second is that a man must be in control at all times, self-reliant and able to handle any situation without asking for help. She calls this the”powerful loner stereotype.” The third message is that a man must protect and keep safe those who are important to him and never trouble them with his own struggles or concerns. The last is that a man must be ever ready to overcome any challenge without fear.

“I don’t need to talk to anyone as I can cope on my own!”

Doka and Martin suggest that men and women express their grief along a continuum of styles ranging from those that they call intuitive, centering on the expression
of affect, to those they call instrumental,which find expression physically and cognitively. Although they are careful to contextualize gender within a matrix of other variables—underscoring that no two people or groups will ever grieve exactly alike and that most prefer some blending of these styles—in general men seem to feel more comfortable with a style more heavily weighted toward the instrumental end.

Cultural Messages

Though we may hope boys in the rising generation of men are no longer receiving such rigid injunctions, many males continue to receive such messages as adults, even when grieving. I’ve worked with many men who report that when they’ve attempted to talk about their feelings or shed tears they have felt rebuffed or gotten the message, subtly or overtly, to “be strong,” “don’t cry,” “suck it up,” or “don’t make others feel uncomfortable.” Such experiences not only close down opportunities for connection and authentic support but also can undermine trust and reinforce stereotyped patterns and defenses tending toward isolation.

Cultural expectations about what constitutes healthy grieving hold that to heal, one has to speak about, process, and “work through” one’s thoughts and feelings by sharing them. Ideally this allows the bereaved to adapt to the world in the absence of their loved one while maximizing social support networks and reinvesting in other relationships and meaningful activities. Those who grieve silently rather than talking about their feelings may be labeled as excessively withdrawn, clinically depressed, or uncommunicative. Men who prize stoicism as an expression of independence or dignity, or as a way of not putting their burdens on others may be considered to be in in denial or out of touch. Men who engage in action-oriented expressions of grief, such as physical activity or private rituals away from the eyes of others, or who attempt to cope through distraction, positive thinking, planning for the future, or intellectualization may be accused of running away from their grief.

Though any of the above tendencies when taken to extremes or excessively relied upon can lead to complications, there is nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy about any of them. In fact, these tendencies may simply be a part of a style of grieving that social worker Tom Golden, LCSW, (2010) refers to as “the masculine side of healing.”

By this he means that there may be a style of grieving and healing that men gravitate to more readily than women. In his book Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, he puts it as follows: “The masculine side of healing is not as accepted a mode of healing as the more traditional verbal and emotional expressions. It tends to be quieter and less visible, less connected with the past and more with the future, [and] less connected with passivity and more aligned with action. As a consequence, I have noticed repeatedly that people who use a predominance of this masculine side of healing are suspected
even by mental health professionals of ‘not really healing.'”

By thinking in terms of a style of healing in which men may feel more at home, we can better assess and appreciate the potentially useful aspects of this style in the larger context of one’s bereavement journey, rather than dismissing it as dysfunctional.

So is the inward experience of grief really different for men and women? Or is the pain simply more likely to find expression along gender lines? Maybe the
difference is not so much in the experience of grief itself but in how the pain of grief is absorbed, processed, and expressed, or what we typically call mourning.

Unquestionably, many men have inherited the messages described by Stillion—the powerful loner guarding emotion behind a wall of strength, unwilling to be vulnerable,
uncomfortable asking for support. But this response may be reflexive and potentially self-protective when one is feeling unsafe or overwhelmed. When the value of
such responses are affirmed and the boundaries they set respected, and when the language of action, silent gestures, personal codes of honor, are decoded and affirmed,
men often become more forthcoming about things which they had been struggling to carry alone.

If we mistakenly view a surface style as indicative of an unwillingness to connect or process on a deeper level, or if we discount this style as invalid, insisting that those for whom it is helpful are not doing the work of bereavement, we will miss opportunities to go beneath the surface and offer support. If we accept and respect what may be a masculine or instrumental style of healing, we can avoid the trap of stereotyped expectations and build trust by not dismissing these strategies or attempting to force ourselves beyond one’s defenses.

It must be remembered, of course, that this style, although it can become an avenue into healing, may also lead to serious complications, causing men to suppress or feel shame about normal thoughts, feelings, and difficulties which often attend grief, and potentially creating distrust when it comes to asking for or accepting support. It can also lead to isolation, relational conflict, undisclosed anxiety, depression, or a reliance on dangerous forms of escapism such as drinking or extreme risk-taking, possibly leading to premature death.

It’s also worth remembering that there are plenty of men who gravitate toward an intuitive style of mourning and many women who prefer one that tends toward the instrumental. And that these preferences may be more fluid than fixed, changing with the context, level of trust, and so on.

When the subject of gender differentials in grieving comes up among social workers, the conversations can get pretty lively. Some argue that, although we need to be careful not to overgeneralize, there are clear differences in style between men and women. Others may agree that it’s wise to be aware of ways gender socialization can impact one’s sense of self but distrust such generalizations because they can dull one’s sensitivity to nuance, subjectivity, and changeability when it comes to processing and healing from any significant loss.

The good news is most hospice and bereavement social workers are flexible and inclusive when it comes to these matters, incorporating multiple dimensions of experience and expression into their work, going beyond the traditional verbal explorations that have typified grief bereavement counseling in the past. They understand the need to take the time necessary to establish trust and safety. They respect a client’s defenses
and are sensitive to the ways these may be affected by gender. And most respect the potential value of solitude and of more action-oriented strategies for
coping and healing, whether these strategies are preferred by a man or a woman.

ADVICE

To better understand men who are grieving, it’s helpful to recognize that:

Our own gender biases may influence how we “read” another gender’s grieving.

Although men and women grieve differently, neither way is inappropriate. It is not helpful to take sides, supporting one way of grieving over another.The way we grieve is as individual as we are: some men grieve in traditionally “feminine” ways and some women grieve in traditionally “masculine” ways. What looks like inappropriate behavior may be a man’s way of avoiding feelings or displaying emotions publicly. A man should not be judged for how he is grieving. If a man seems more angry than sad at the death of his pet, he may just be angry at the situation – and anger may be the only way he knows to express his grief.
It’s useful in such cases not to take the man’s anger personally, or to react defensively against it.

Some men turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to numb the pain of loss, or to lower their inhibitions so they can let loose their emotions.
They need to know that, because alcohol is a depressant, it will only add to the sadness they’re already feeling.

“One more drink and then I can get my work done for the day!”

Men are less likely to seek the support of others (either individually or in a group) in order to express (think, talk, cry, or write about) their feelings, especially if they don’t feel respected, or if they find certain aspects of grief to be embarrassing. A man needs encouragement to share his reactions and emotions, to explore what his pet’s death means to him, and to acknowledge how the loss affects his life.

Men often appear to be further along in the grieving process than they actually are. Even if a man appears to be all right, it is unwise to make assumptions about what he is feeling. When in doubt, ask!


HELPING A CHILD TO GRIEVE AFTER A LOSS OR DEATH

NEVER rush a child while they’re grieving, let them grieve and do what they can to release these emotions that they’re feeling. Just be patient and ready when they need to talk.

Remember, in my last post that I mentioned about that children don’t grieve after a loss or death? Well, that’s not a hundred percent, true. It’s quite the opposite.

Children and teenagers express their grief in a variety of ways. Some may be sad and verbalize the loss like many adults. Depending on their ages, however, they may show sadness only sometimes and for short periods. Children may complain of physical discomfort, such as stomachaches or headaches. Or they may express anxiety or distress about other challenges, such as school or sports.

Loss is more intense when the child had a close relationship with the person who died, such as a parent or sibling. However, this is not always obvious from a child’s reactions. A child’s grief may seem to come and go. And a child may rarely verbally express his or her grief. This is normal. Your child may also re-experience the intensity of the loss as he or she grows up. This may occur more often during certain milestones in life, such as starting school or going on a first date. Even into adulthood, important events such as graduating from college or getting married may trigger renewed grief.

Age has a large influence on childhood grief and how children understand and react to the death of a family member, friend, pet, or close adult.  It is good to know where a child is likely to fall developmentally.  This will help you to better understand how they view the loss and will help you to make age appropriate choices about language and interventions.

Of course age won’t help you to predict exactly how a child will react, other factors will have an impact as well.  Maturity, past experiences, education level, socio-economic status, what part of the world you live in, and access to support resources are merely a few of the many factors that influence us all.

Understanding how children and teens view death

It is helpful to know how children understand death at different stages of development. It varies by age and often changes as a child develops emotionally and socially. Other factors also influence children’s reactions. These can include personality, previous experiences with death, and support from family members. Keep in mind that children do not move abruptly from one stage of development to the next. And features from each stage may overlap.

It is advised that with children of any age or background you should do the following:

  1. Acknowledge their presence, their importance, their opinions, thoughts, and feelings.
  2. Be patient and open minded.  Allow them to grieve in their own way.
  3. Be available – Sit with the child, listen to them, and answer their questions.
  4. Reassure them the circumstances that led to the death were extreme and it is unlikely other adults in their lives will die any time soon (unless this is untrue).
  5. Let them know that a range of different emotions are normal.
  6. Validate their feelings and do not minimize them.
  7. Check in with other adults involved in their life – teachers, school counselors, coaches.Explain death using real words such as “died” rather than confusing phrases such as “gone to sleep.” You can say that death means the person’s body has stopped working or that the person can no longer breathe, talk, move, eat, or any of the things he or she could do when alive.
  8. Share your family’s religious or spiritual beliefs about death.
  9. Encourage your child to ask questions, and try to answer them honestly and directly. If you do not know the answer to a question, help find the answer.
  10. Use books, drawings, or role-play games to help a younger child understand death.
  11. Make sure your child understands that he or she is not to blame for the death and that the person who died is not coming back.
  12. Provide lots of affection and reassure your child often that he or she will continue to be loved and cared for.
  13. Encourage your child to talk about his or her emotions. Suggest other ways to express feelings, such as writing in a journal or drawing a picture.
  14. Without overwhelming your child, share your grief with him or her. Expressing your emotions can encourage your son or daughter to share his or her own emotions.
  15. Help your child understand that normal grief involves a range of emotions, including anger, guilt, and frustration. Explain that his or her emotions and reactions may be very different from those of adults.
  16. Reassure your child that it is normal for the pain of grief to come and go over time. Explain that they cannot always predict when they will feel sad.
  17. If your child is older, encourage him or her to talk with an adult outside the family, such as a teacher or a clergy member. You can also consider an age-specific support group.
  18. Keep routines and caregivers as consistent as possible, and continue setting limits on behavior. Care, consistency, and continuity help children feel safe.
  19. Encourage spending time with friends and engaging in other age-appropriate activities.Reassure your child that it is never disloyal to the person who died to feel happy and to have fun.

Addressing daily routine and role changes

The death of a parent or other close family member can directly affect a child’s day-to-day life. Family routines and roles change, such as a surviving parent having to return to work and spend less time at home. These changes are an added disruption and may add to a child’s distress. Even young children will benefit from extra preparation, conversations, and support around these transitions.

Although the death of a family member with cancer is painful, it may also lessen some of a child’s stress. For example, the death of a sibling might mean that a parent is not dividing time between a sick child at the hospital and another child at home. It is normal to have strong, mixed feelings, including some relief, when a family member’s suffering is over after a long or difficult illness. Help your child realize that these feelings are normal and that he or she should not feel guilty for having them.

Honoring and remembering the person who died

Children as young as age 3 understand the concept of saying goodbye. They should be allowed to choose how they say goodbye to a loved one.

  • Give preschool-age and older children the choice of attending memorial services. But do not force them to attend if they do not want to.
  • Some children may want to attend a memorial service but not a viewing or burial.
  • Allow older children and teenagers to help plan memorials if they want.
  • Talk with children about what will happen at a service ahead of time. Consider visiting the church or cemetery.
  • Ask a trusted adult to help take care of young children at a service or to go home with a child who decides he or she wants to leave early.
Give time and patience when the child is ready to talk to you about the loved one that you loss together. Never feel bad at bringing up some of the things that you remembered about your loss.

I have put together a list of typical grief responses by age.  Again, every child is different and we can’t quantify all the unique and individual qualities of your child in this list.  If your child reacts in a way that concerns you then it might be a good idea to talk things over with an expert like a pediatrician, school counselor, or child psychologist.

Infants (birth to 2 years)

  • Have no understanding of death.
  • Are aware of separation and will grieve the absence of a parent or caregiver.
  • May react to the absence of a parent or caregiver with increased crying, decreased responsiveness, and changes in eating or sleeping.
  • May keep looking or asking for a missing parent or caregiver and wait for him or her to return.
  • Are most affected by the sadness of surviving parent(s) and caregivers.

Preschool-age children (3 to 6 years)

  • Are curious about death and believe it is temporary or reversible.
  • May see death as something like sleeping. In other words, the person is dead but only in a limited way and may continue to breathe or eat after death.
  • Often feel guilty and believe that they are responsible for the death of a loved one, perhaps because they were “bad” or wished the person would “go away.”
  • May think that they can make the person who died come back if they are good enough.
  • May worry about who will take care of them and about being left behind.
  • Are very affected by the sadness of surviving family members.
  • Cannot put their feelings into words and instead react to loss through behaviors such as irritability, aggression, physical symptoms, difficulty sleeping, or regression (such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking).

School-age children (6 to 12 years)

  • Understand that death is final.
  • May think of death as a person or a spirit, like a ghost, angel, or a skeleton.
  • By age 10, understand that death happens to everyone and cannot be avoided.
  • Are often interested in the specific details of death and what happens to the body after death.
  • May experience a range of emotions including guilt, anger, shame, anxiety, sadness, and worry about their own death.
  • Struggle to talk about their feelings. Their feelings may come out through behaviors such as school avoidance, poor performance in school, aggression, physical symptoms, withdrawal from friends, and regression.
  • May worry about who will take care of them, and will likely experience feelings of insecurity, clinginess, and abandonment.
  • May worry that they are to blame for the death.

Teenagers (13 to 18 years)

  • Have an adult understanding of the concept of death but do not have the experiences, coping skills, or behavior of an adult.
  • May act out in anger at family members or show impulsive or reckless behaviors, such as substance use, fighting in school, and sexual promiscuity.
  • May experience a wide range of emotions but not know how to handle them or not feel comfortable talking about them.
  • May question their faith or their understanding of the world.
  • May not be receptive to support from adult family members because of their need to be independent and separate from parents.
  • May cope by spending more time with friends or by withdrawing from the family to be alone.

To end this, help your child understand that the person who died lives on in his or her memory. Parents who are terminally ill sometimes leave letters, videos, or photographs to help children remember how much they were loved. Children can also compile pictures and other special items to create their own memory. For younger children, most of their knowledge of the person who died will come from memories of other family members. Talk about the person often, and remind children of how much the deceased person loved them. Over time, children can understand that they would not be who they are without the influence of the special person who died.