Neurodiversity and Grief: Navigating this Intricate Intersection

Grief is a universal human experience, yet the way individuals navigate, and process grief can vary significantly based on their unique needs, including if they are neurodiverse. Neurodiversity not only is an umbrella term for a range of different conditions, it is also a concept that recognises and celebrates the natural variations in how individuals think, learn, and process information.

This blog not only explores the intersection of neurodiversity and grief, highlighting the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals, but also provides ideas that may help you or anyone you love that is neurodivergent and facing a grief journey. 

Neurodiversity and Grief – Understanding the Intersection

At 2wish, we know that anyone who is neurodivergent may experience grief differently than neurotypical individuals, but it is important to emphasise that this difference does not take away the grief neurodivergent people feel or reduce the need for appropriate support and guidance.

We know that the sensory, communication and processing differences that neurodivergent people experience can result in different ways of expressing grief and different ways of understanding death and mourning. For example, someone with autism may struggle with processing and expressing their emotions, while someone with ADHD may find it difficult to focus on their feelings of loss and work to avoid it in order to cope. For many neurodivergent individuals, sudden and unexpected death can also exacerbate other conditions that they may be facing, such as anxiety, depression and physical symptoms.

In addition, neurodivergent individuals may face unique challenges when grieving, such as difficulty understanding abstract concepts like death, sensory overload in grief-related environments, and challenges in communicating their emotions and needs to others. This is compounded when put alongside expected social norms of grief may as this may not align with the individual’s neurodivergent traits, leading to feelings of isolation and misunderstanding.

Helpful Strategies for Supporting Neurodiverse Individuals through the Grieving Process

We all know that when supporting people who are neurodivergent, it is important to offer personalised support that meets their exact needs. Some of the best strategies include:

  • Being Clear and Consistent – being upfront and honest about the death and what happened will be vital to people who are neurodivergent so that they are not left feeling confused or shut away from what is happening.
  • Creating Safe Sensory Grieving Spaces – the place that people are told about death has a profound effect on the rest of their lives, and this is even more important for neurodiverse people. Making sure that sensory needs are considered is vital, and that a safe and comfortable space is available, such as one of the 2wish-funded bereavement rooms.
  • Completing Appropriate Activities – when supporting people who are neurodiverse, ensuring the grief activities you complete are centred around the loss, what happened and what to expect will help with processing. For example, creating or using a social story about death can make it easier to share the news that someone has died.
  • Providing Time for Expression – many of us talk through our grief, but if someone’s neurodiversity makes them feel unable to talk then other forms of expression can help, including art therapy, movement therapy, writing and more.
  • Honest Answers – finally, but probably most importantly, providing honest, clear and factual answers will ensure that the person you are supporting is fully aware of what is happening and what to expect. It will also allow them to feel confident in trusting the support you are offering.

All these strategies go to show that by acknowledging someone’s specific needs and diverse ways in which people process grief, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for those who may struggle with traditional grief support services and expectations.

2Wish – Proud to Offer Neurodiversity-Inclusive Grief Support

At 2wish, we recognise that there is a growing need for grief support services and resources that are inclusive of neurodiversity, alongside a range of other needs. By providing accessible services, we can make sure that every person that is referred to us can get the support they need in a way that is best for them and at a time that is right.

At 2wish, we work with anyone who has been affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a child or young person under the age of 25. Whether you are finding it hard to navigate your grief or want more advice or information about what we do, the 2wish team would love to hear from you.

You can call us on (01443) 853125 or email us at and we will do our utmost to provide you with the help you are looking for. Reach out today and talk to one of our team.