Reviewed by Sr Brid Buckley, Pastoral Care Department, STEP Enterprises (St John of God Services), Dublin 18


Talking together about death is a very useful resource pack for the families and carers of people with learning disabilities. The authors have compiled a user’s guide and five sets of cards which commence with the life-cycles of birds and humans and which address issues of how death occurs, what happens after death, feelings and emotions, and ways of helping or coping with the reality of death.

With each set of illustrated cards the authors provide helpful hints through the provision of notes for guidance and suggested themes; these assist in the delivery of any of the discussion topics. The resource pack may be used sequentially or individually–there are clear subject divisions and wide-ranging illustrations. The illustrated cards show simple and clear line drawings, although they may appear somewhat sterile in black and white. The glossary of general terms is an additional help in standardising the use and understanding of terms.

For those wishing to explore further the area of bereavement for people with learning disabilities, there is a comprehensive bibliography.

The resource pack appears to be targeted towards people with good receptive and expressive language, i.e. people with mild or moderate learning difficulties. The language of the guide is accessible and caring, and shows a thorough knowledge and understanding of the bereavement process. Talking together about death is a useful contribution to the area of bereavement counselling for people with disabilities.

TALKING TOGETHER ABOUT DEATH: A bereavement pack for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers by Joan Cooley and Frankie McGauran. Winslow Press, Bicester OX6 0TS, UK (2000). ISBN 0 86388 265 X. 66pp booklet and 5 sets of illustrated cards. Stg£44.95 plus VAT.