life story work and bereavement: shared reflections on its usefulness
Sue Read Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Keele University, Clinical Education Centre, University Hospital of North Staffordshire, NHS Trust
Claire Bowler , Community home in North Staffordshire
Bereavement and grief, and the profound impact they can potentially have, can go unrecognised in people with learning disabilities. Here, Sue Read and Claire Bowler describe how life story work, which encourages individuals to reflect and take stock of life experiences, can be used to support a client through loss
Supporting a person who has a learning disability with issues relating to loss and bereavement often challenges carers and counsellors alike as they seek creative approaches that help them to engage fully with the individual. Life story work is an approach that is being used increasingly with people with learning disabilities generally, and in this article is used to support the bereavement counselling and support process. The authors reflect on how life story work can help the bereaved to take stock and construct a personal transcript of their lives, which often includes the loss of those closest to them. Although the product itself is beneficial, the process is invaluable. As a therapeutic tool it can nurture an empathic relationship within which the person can identify aspects of their life (sad, happy or indifferent) upon which to reflect, share, explore and record in various creative and accessible ways.
Learning Disability Practice. 10, 4,10-14. doi: 10.7748/ldp2007.05.10.4.10.c4265