Bereavement

Health professionals have recently begun to pay particular attention to the effects of bereavement and loss in the general population.

The experience of bereavement may be made more difficult for people with mental retardation by their exclusion from the rituals and processes associated with dying and death. The effects of bereavement among this population are particularly severe and long lasting; there may be a significant increase in aberrant behaviours, and an increase in psychopathology. (42

The experience of bereavement of a parent is particularly difficult for a person with mental retardation if the parent has also cared for them at home. In addition to trying to come to terms with this loss, there may be other major life changes, such as moving into a strange home, living with unfamiliar people, and being cared for by a number of new carers.

Practical interventions have been developed specifically for people with mental retardation. Cathcart (43> has reviewed the resources currently available for the therapeutic support of this group of individuals.

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