Grief Loss Disability and Behaviour Support: Our Commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II

It is with great personal sadness that we acknowledge publicly the passing of our collective archetypal grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth II in 2015, Reign: 6 February 1952 – 8 September 2022

As we reflect on her passing, and we are among those many who have never met her personally, we are at this time deeply aware of how much her death raises grief and loss issues for many. We add that many of our clients experience public events as personally impactful. Following the past couple of years, where we have all lived through many disruptive events and restrictions, and have been separated from family and support people, such a public death of an important person like Queen Elizabeth II does move so many of us to tears.

Complex grief and loss like this does often cause enormous sadness, perhaps even depression and heightened anxiety. For me, the Queen’s passing brings back so many family memories of loss. The deaths of my grandmother, and father, respectively bring up layers of complex grief. This is quite normal even when those deaths were many years ago now. Grief and loss are timeless.

We recall how people want grief periods to be brief and to move on with life. Prolonged grief can appear abnormal and often leads to seeking counselling or clinical support. However, in many ways prolonged grief is normal and the nature of how this feels over time tends to shift and change. However, the loss of a loved one can be just as poignant 10 and 20 or 40 years later or longer. As we get older, grief deepens as well. Our own disability or ageing or struggles can bring up its own complex losses. These can often attach unconscious links to similar feelings we had when we lost a beloved family member.

Indeed, the loss of much loved pets like dogs and cats, horses, or other creatures can be very impactful. Grief and loss is part of life. Death is also part of life. How we manage this is different for each person.

For people with disabilities grief and loss are perhaps more complex not less. How we support people during these times is important to consider. For example, having supportive counselling and other everyday ways to support people with grief and loss can be as simple as talking about these things. Perhaps having a special cuppa or meal, or visiting a grave yard or public monument, or bringing flowers to a gravestone or other important nearby location.

Grief and loss can be a complex process over days, weeks, and months when the death of an important person raises many issues of sadness, loss, depression, and anxiety for people with Autism, or Intellectual Disability, along with other conditions like genetic, neurological, and other complex issues like Prader Willi.

Grief periods when family or staff and perhaps also local or even national society slows down and routines change dramatically because of a death can also raise significant issues for people with Autism and other disabilities. The death is one issue. The change in routine is another quite important issue. This can be highly disruptive, let alone how a public or family death changes almost everyone’s disposition in how their emotions and expressions change. This can be very confusing for people with disabilities.

It takes great but highly necessary consideration and duty of care to be with people with disabilities to explain and discuss with them what is happening and why. In simple terms, it is possible to discuss these issues and provide important levels of emotional and social support. This needs to happen in everyday life and as things are happening.

Often a parent or manager or CEO who is well known by the person with disability needs to be available where possible to provide additional support. Later or where necessary in the moment, counselling or other formal types of support can be engaged. Timely referral to a GP or other health and/or behaviour specialist may be relevant.

Again, we extend our heartfelt sympathy in the wake of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We wish you every peace and blessing now and always.

Featured Image, A now very poignant image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Queensland, Australia, in 1970.

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