Theme for the week: Grief and autism, etc.
One year ago today my husband's grandfather (great grandpa to my boys) died of lung cancer. He was 80. Both boys went to the funeral. I had to explain to both sons (one on the spectrum and one really young) the various terms related to funerals--death, funeral home, visitation and wake. I told them that grandpa was in heaven and when they saw him in the casket it would look like he was sleeping, but that he wouldn't ever be able to wake up. They seemed to understand. I did have to coach my oldest as to what to say to great grandma. I told him to say "I'm sorry" and to say only that. He understood and listened. Both sons went to the visitation and funeral. Both sons behaved well.
Yes, my nine year old with ASD really did understand what had taken place. For a short time he called the man who just passed "the great one." My son has gone back to using the term great grandpa, but will usually say "he died" whenever we start talking about his great grandfather.
A little over a year ago, my husband Michael, who has a couple of blogs posted a tribute to our much loved family member at his Americans Presidents blog. An excerpt:
My grandfather Avery Lorenzen died last week at the age of 80. I went to his funeral last Wednesday. My grandfather worked for many years as a security man at Bowling Green State University and later as a sexton of a cemetery in Bowling Green, Ohio.My grandfather was a good man and I miss him. He had been ill for several years and 50+ years of smoking finally did him in as lung cancer claimed him.My grandfather was not a presidential historian. He was not active in presidential politics. He did not teach presidential history.Despite this, I owe this man much appreciation for my lifelong interest in the American Presidency. Simply put, Avery Lorenzen was opinionated about every American President from FDR on and he shared these opinions with his oldest grandson (me!) often and eagerly.
I remember grandpa lecturing at length on these presidents. He had a passion for it and he always shared his views. I remember debating with him my own views on these men (always different than his even at a young age) and then going to the library and looking stuff up when grandpa annoyed me too much. [...]
I remember best:- The debate as a 10 year old I had with grandpa in 1980 when he was convinced that the election of Reagan meant that World War Three was certain in 1981.- The praise grandpa had for Clinton's willingness to use his power to get women but his disappointment with which ones Clinton was selecting!- His views that all presidents, no matter how well intentioned, invariably are the tools of the rich. The essence of this view is that politics is about compromise and that the rich rig the game by setting unrealistic goals which are still served when a middle ground is reached.
My grandfather never went to college as a student. Some of his views are odd. However, he was a smart man and he could articulate his points well. I learned a lot from him and I know it did not bother him too much (or surprise him in the least) when I registered as a Republican at age 18. Avery Lorenzen, I will love you forever. Thank you. Rest in peace.