Identify and Use Your Support System
Whether you turn to your personal network or an organized grief support group, there are people who can help. Family members, friends, co-workers, members of your faith community, and neighbors are often willing to offer assistance, so don’t be afraid to ask. Most people in your intimate network will want to help but may not know what to offer or how to ask.
The bereaved often hear comments such as “let me know what you need.” Specific requests from you, such as asking a friend to pick up a prescription, shovel snow, drive you to an appointment, or walk the dog, can go a long way toward helping you in the first weeks following a loss and will also allow your friends to feel that they are helping. If in-home professionals are working with your autistic loved one, use that support to its full advantage. Consider accessing respite care to give you a needed break.
In many places, the autism community is characterized by a close network of families. Your support network may not specifically be centered around grief, but chances are good that several people in your group have experienced loss. Reach out and connect with those people.
Some therapists recommend reflecting intentionally on how those in your support network can best help, and suggest using the DLR coding system:
“D” for people who are good doers and are eager to help with specific chores and tasks.
“L” for listeners who are people you can turn to who will always listen without judgment.
“R” for respite friends with whom you can relax and who will help provide the necessary “time off” from grief.