Thursday, September 11, 2008

Down syndrome, Death, and Mourning

Ricki tomorrow in “halacha-dinim” (Jewish law) class will be learning about who can be a leader of prayer, blower of the shofer (ram’s horn) for Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. The specific part these eighth grade teens will be learning is the part dealing with mourners.
As I sat down this morning to prepare materials for Ricki for the preparatory session she will have with her aid in advance of the class, I wondered:
Does Ricki have an idea what a mourner is? She knows that people die, though I am not so sure HOW she envisions this. But she has, I am sure, no real knowledge of the words and customs associated with death.
[Gee, it just hit me that this subject is SSOO relevant to today- 9-11!]
It just so happens that Ricki’s paternal grandfather is very ill. We hope and pray that he have a long(er) life. However, the possibility of his passing away sometime this year are not low. And if it would occur before Ricki’s sister’s wedding this fall, there will be consequences for my husband’s amount of participation in the celebrations. So this is a topic that is potentially relevant to Ricki’s life.
So I decided that most of her preparatory lesson will be on the customs of mourning. How a mourner feels, etc. I will start the subject thoroughly at home, not to leave the broaching of this sensitive subject to the aide.
I am just wondering. Will the aide think “Oh, something relevant for once!”, or will she, feeling queasy about the subject, think I’m nuts? What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I only know of Ricki through your blog, but the picture of her I get is that she has the cognitive and developmental capacity to understand emotions.

I'm sure you are familiar with the concept of "social stories". I've read other mothers using this concept several times recently.

FAB said...

Sometimes, when other' sthink we're crazy, we're actually being brilliant! I think this is a subject that get's overlooked significantly for people with ID/DD. I have known people wityh ID in the past who weren't "allowed" to go to thier own parent's funeral because other's thought they wouldn't get it, or it would be too distressing. I've then seen this people suffer for a long time following because peope don't allow them to mourn, and they don't know it's OK to do so.

So I say BRAVO!

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

I'm not so sure if this applies with Down Syndrome children. But I once wrote a little post about talking to kids about death. Curious Children