Coping with bereavement is one of the most overwhelming problems faced by people with learning difficulties. For some it may mean leaving home for the first time in their lives, often without explanation, to live in institutions where staff may have little understanding of their loss and sadness. The death of a loved person may be combined with the loss of all that is familiar in their world.
Maureen Oswin has carried out years of research into a subject which has remained unaccountably neglected in relation to people with learning difficulties. In this poignant and helpful book she describes bewildered men and women kept in ignorance of a parent’s death, unable to understand why their father or mother is no longer there; lonely widows left to cope single-handed with a severely handicapped son or daughter, ignored by the support services at a time when they are most in need of help; people with learning difficulties taken into institutions where their grief is treated as ‘problem behaviour’.
While the author is sympathetic to the problems faced by staff in coping with bereaved people with learning difficulties, she is highly critical of their training which often fails to respect the very normal feelings of the people in their care. Everybody, in situations of grief, is likely to behave in a way that is out of character, yet people with learning difficulties are rarely accorded the understanding shown to others.
In a practical and optimistic chapter, the author sets out guidelines for change and improvement in training, attitudes and services. Her advice, based on many years of experience, should create a standard which will do much to help people with learning difficulties in their time of grief.
“Maureen Oswin… has made the greatest contribution to modern social care.”
“Vital in assisting social services.”