A death in the family

HI all, sadly my father in law passed away on Saturday following a 5 week stay in the ICU.

he was admitted mid august following a brain aneurysm and after 2 brain surgeries he was stable. he then contracted a chest infection and was very unwell. he was unable to move his left side, talk or communicate. all this was awful for my wife who is autistic and terribly afraid of hospitals.

but after a few weeks he seemed better and was put on a ward. he lasted 3 days. then suddenly the chest infection meant he couldn’t breathe well and new scans of his brain showed fluid and masses on his brain. saturday evening my wife was called to be with him and we as a family told him he is loved and that he didnt need to fight anymore. he passed away holding my wifes hand.

she is of course grieving and has taken it very hard. she is trying to go on as normal but everyday i see her crack a little more. i really need advice to help her get through this as she is speaking at the funeral and i know that will be awful for her.

Hi David,

I’m sorry for your loss, however, it sounds as if it was a welcome release for your FIL.

However, now you are trying to deal with your own grief and support your wife.

Although this book is written for staff and support workers, it sounds as if it has useful information on how to best support someone with autism who bereaved https://www.autism.org.uk/products/core-nas-publications/support-for-the-bereaved-and-the-dying.aspx Definitely worth a look.


Hi David,
My sympathies to your wife and yourself. It’s been a hard time.
Do you think the funeral is upsetting for her? (Of course it is but for more than the ‘usual’ reasons?)
I wonder whether your wife would be more comfortable reading one of the many beautiful poems associated with the passing of a loved one or have you or another family member at her side sharing the task?
Even just stand by the side of someone reading what she wants to say for her?
Would it be appropriate for your wife to visit the venue where the funeral is to take place before hand so it isn’t completely strange to her? I expect you are going to go through what happens and who everyone is and what they are doing?
Perhaps any music should be chosen with your wife in mind rather than FIL so that it is familiar and soothing?
Could she wear sunglasses to put a barrier between herself and maybe some unfamiliar people?
Sorry if my thoughts are not helpful. No disrespect intended.

Sorry for your loss. Might it be better for the pastor or a family friend to say a few words, rather than your wife?

Sad to hear this news.
If you feel you could, and your wife struggles with her tribute,. be on standby to take over?

hi thank you for all of your replies.

my wife is desperate to read at the funeral as she wasnt allowed to read at her grandfathers.

she wears glasses so with transition lenses, so sunglasses wouldnt work, but she wears sound generators in her ears to help with too much noise. i am going to be close by to move along friends and family that might to be overbearing during the funeral and wake.

she is currently practising a few words to share at the funeral, she has chosen to tell a memory of her dad that makes her smile. Its a small piece and i will stand with her and shes going to have it written down so someone can take over if needed…

weve had family funerals at the same crematorium before so she knows the place. the celebrant for the service is coming to see us on Friday to introduce herself (im so glad its a lady as my wife seems to connect better with females)

im going to all the meetings with my wife and have made calls to ensure that the funeral director knows she autistic so they can be aware,

Although I’ve often spoken publicly, no way could I speak at a funeral, because I get too emotional. Whatever your wife feels is right to do, IS the right thing for her to do. Family and friends should be aware of her special needs anyhow. I hope it goes well. Funerals can be very healing.

some of the family are aware of her special needs but many of them are either very distant and wouldn’t know or are very elderly and don’t acknowledge that she has special needs.