This is a list of examples of terminology we use on our website and why. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list and our usage may change in response to new advice on writing for clarity and inclusivity. 


We use person first language, e.g ‘autistic child’ rather than ‘a child with autism’. This is in response to feedback from families with autistic children and the recommendations of the National Autistic Society.


We prefer to use the words dead, died and death rather than using euphemisms (such as passed away, gone to the stars etc.) which can be confusing for children, particularly younger children who can be more literal in their thinking. 

Learning disability/learning difficulty

We use learning difficulty in the way it is used by Mencap to describe difficulties with processing certain types of information, e.g. ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia. A learning difficulty does not affect general intellect.

Also in line with Mencap’s use, we use learning disability to define “a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example, household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life”.


The term neurodiversity is a spectrum which can include neurotypical and neurodivergent people.


The term neurodivergent includes autistic people and those with mental health conditions, dyslexia and ADHD.

SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities)

A person has special educational needs and disabilities if they have a learning difficulty and/or a disability that means they need special health and education support (NHS England).


We use the term practitioner to describe members of our Bereavement Services team who work with families, rather than the term counsellor or therapist. Like a bereavement counsellor or a grief counsellor, a bereavement support practitioner listens confidentially to a bereaved person about their grief. However, our bereavement support practitioners also offer guidance based on what other bereaved families tell us helps them, and signpost to activities and resources. They also, where appropriate and with permission of the family, liaise with other agencies such as schools and social services.

Special person or someone important to you

We use the terms ‘special person’ or ‘someone important to you’ to refer to someone who has died. We don’t use the term ‘loved one’ as for some people the person who has died may not have been someone they loved, but their death may be significant to them. However, we will use the term ‘loved one’ if we are quoting the words of a bereaved person.


We do not use the term ‘committed suicide’ as this is incorrect since the act of suicide was decriminalised  in England and Wales in 1961. Instead we use the terms 'died by suicide’ and ‘ended their own life.’