Serving the Underserved: Caring for People Who Are Both Old and Mentally Retarded: A Handbook for Caregivers

By Mary C. Howell; Deirdre G. Gavin et al. | Go to book overview

44
PARTICIPATION IN RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES
Marjorie RuckerThere are six areas that are important aspects of participation in religious observances. They are:
a concept of God and the purpose of the church
opportunities for socialization
ritual and holiday celebrations
an understanding of death and dying
a means of equality
a special relationship between staff and clients

Most of us believe in a power greater than ourselves; this is something people with mental retardation are also able to do. If only in the most basic of terms, they know about God, heaven, and hell. Some clients have been taught about this in a very punitive manner: "God only loves you when you are good," or "if you do this or that God will be angry or you will go to hell for being bad." Others have had more formal training either from their families of from their clergy; they have quite a different idea of God. They understand that God can be a friend, companion, and someone or something in whom they can believe, trust, and hope. This is expressed by their attachments to pictures, statues, Bibles, or prayer books.

Some clients have learned about prayer. They say grace before meals and are able to understand that they are giving thanks for the food they are about to eat. Others know the Lord's Prayer or other songs and prayers that they have learned at church or synagogue, and they have some understanding of them.

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