Loss and Grief in People with Intellectual Disability

  • Joy PowellEmail author


This chapter on loss and grief in people with intellectual disability begins with the premise that loss and grief are normal integral aspects of life for all people and that people with intellectual disability do not differ from the general population in this. It is written from the perspective of a chaplain supporting people with intellectual disability through their grief journey. It acknowledges that grief is a normal part of life; it is not an event something to “get over” but rather a process that involves time, presence and deep listening skills, on the part of the chaplain or anyone who is supporting a person on the grief journey. What follows are some approaches to spiritual care provision among people with ID who are grieving. There are some examples from practice where people shared their stories with me; all names have been changed to protect identities.


Loss and grief Chaplain Intellectual disability Spirituality Death Community Funerals Rituals Prayer Empathetic listening Feelings Emotions Validate Meaning Hope 



Intellectual disability


National Association of Healthcare Chaplains



To Prof. John McEvoy PHD; Irish Hospice Foundation Dublin; Seasons for Growth, Margaret MacKillop Foundation, Sydney, Australia; Geraldine M. Humphrey and David G. Zimpfer; Caroline Lloyd; and the men and women whose stories are informed in this work, thank you.


  1. 1.
    Humphrey GM, Zimpfer DG. Counselling for grief and bereavement. London: Sage Publications; 2002.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lloyd C. Grief demystified an introduction. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications; 2018. p. 11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint John of God Hospitaller MinistriesDublinIreland

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