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Living with an Invisible Disability

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

This week is Invisible Disabilities Week, which started on October 16th and runs until Saturday, October 22nd. Its aim is to raise awareness about individuals who suffer from invisible injuries, how these conditions affect their lives, and how society can make adjustments to be a more inclusive place.

Barely visible image of a person were only the hands and a shadow of the body is visible

You may sometimes hear invisible disabilities referred to as "hidden disabilities” as well. According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, an invisible disability is “a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities.”

This means that even though someone looks to you like they are “fine,” they might still have challenges or limitations that you can’t see or hear. Invisible disabilities can be physical, cognitive, and emotional, and they can be debilitating even when they aren’t obvious. Examples of invisible disabilities include mental illness, diabetes, arthritis, brain injuries, lupus, epilepsy, dyslexia, bowel disease, ADHD, fibromyalgia, PTSD, and many many more.

Never assume that you can tell another person’s true experience simply by looking at them and don’t assume that someone isn’t operating at their best just because their capacity is lower than yours. The best way to interact with Individuals with hidden disabilities is to treat everyone with respect and kindness. Don’t tell anyone that they "don’t look" sick, injured, or disabled and don’t dismiss or disbelieve those who share their conditions and experiences with you.

At Home Hospice Association, we recognize that having a chronic health condition or living with chronic pain changes the way we view our own mortality, which is exactly why the Spoonie Death Café was created. If you live with an invisible disability and would like to attend the upcoming Spoonie Death Café on Saturday, October 22nd at 4:00 PM, you can register here.


Cari Ferguson is a grief and death educator. She is also HHA’s Communications Manager and Death Education Coordinator. You can learn more about Cari at

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