Remembering Kathy – Housemate to Sharon and Steven

Kathy lived with Sharon and Steven. Both Sharon and Steven shared fond memories of Kathy. They said:

“Kathy loved cake, colouring and Rainbow.” (The house cat)

“One of Kathy’s favourite songs was Dolly Parton ‘9 to 5’. It was played at her funeral.”

I asked Sharon and Steven if they went to the funeral.

“We did, but not many people were allowed and we had to wear a mask because of the virus.”

Both Sharon and Steven said it was strange to attend a funeral with COVID restrictions in place, and because Kathy was cremated they hadn’t been able to visit a grave. To help with remembering Kathy, the staff at the house had decided to make a memorial garden so that Sharon and Steven could plant some flowers and remember Kathy.

Remembering John’s Mum

John’s mum died during the pandemic and he explained to me that this had made him sad. John said that things were very different now that his mum was not alive, and that he was looking after his dad and his sister was looking after both of them.

John remembered that his mum was a brilliant baker. He said:

“Mum would make lovely fairy cakes and she liked to bake with her grandchildren. She loved children.”

John said that his mum was very religious and went to church every week. I asked if John's mum's funeral was at a church and he brought out the order of service for the funeral. He said:

“I like to keep it as a reminder of my mum and what she liked.”

Creating remembrance artwork

I supported Sharon, John and Steven to look on the computer to find images of the things they’d described to me. Sharon explained that she had some pictures she wanted to share, and she emailed them to me whilst Steven and John (with assistance) looked through Google images. John even photocopied his order of service and cut pictures out of it.  

The importance of supporting people with a learning disability to remember

Steven said that he enjoyed remembering and talking about Kathy, and wanted to show the Manager and other people within the Lifelong Learning Service what he had done.

Our time together remembering the people that Sharon, John and Steven had loved and lost was a rollercoaster of emotions. During our 2 hours we laughed and cried, and talked about how it was ok to feel sad and that we should talk about our feelings as staff may be able to help.

How Sharon, John and Steven reacted proved to me how important it is that the people we support have opportunities to talk through their emotions and grief like anyone else might. It’s our responsibility as staff to help facilitate that.

Final thoughts

Sharon, John and Steven all responded very well to what was a difficult and emotional topic.

For Sharon and John the work didn’t end with our initial session. A week later at the Lifelong Learning Service, Sharon and John refused to join in any other sessions until the artwork they had started was completed. John ended up taking his finished artwork home to show his sister, who contacted me the next day to get more information on the Dying to Talk Project.

Find out more about the Dying to Talk Project

Would you like to learn about Dying to Talk? You can contact us using the form below.

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If you would like to find out more about our Dying to Talk project, please contact us using the form below.