Grief & Developmental Disabilities

Aug 7th, 2015 | Episode 20

When someone dies, it creates upheaval in the support system, leading to unfamiliar territory in terms of how to help those with different perceptions and expressions of grief such as language, repetitive gestures or patterning, emotional disconnect, and searching behaviors. Although the outward expression of someone’s grief may be difficult to recognize, the need for their grief to be acknowledged and supported is universal. In this episode, Jana talks with Rebecca Hobbs-Lawrence, a staff member at The Dougy Center, about ways to support children and adults with developmental disabilities in their grief

Suggestions for supporting children or adults with developmental disabilities in their grief:

  1. Acknowledge the loss by being present and responsive to their verbal and behavioral cues.

  2. Affirm that they are not alone, name the support people they have.

  3. Maintain a consistent routine as much as possible. Give a lot of advanced notice for when their daily routine may change or be unusual.

  4. Facilitate activities or rituals that will acknowledge the grief. This can help children and adults to develop coping strategies and find ways to remember the person who died.

Resources:

Finding Your Own Way to Grieve: A Creative Activity Workbook for Kids and Teens on the Autism Spectrum by Karla Helbert, 2012

Everyone Grieves: Stories about Individuals with Disabilities and Grief by Marc A. Markell, 2013

Helping People with Developmental Disabilities Mourn: Practical Rituals for Caregivers by Marc A. Markell, 2005

Lessons in Grief & Death: Supporting People with Developmental Disabilities in the Healing Process by Linda Van Dyke, 2003

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