Working with the bereaved did face me with a number of important ‘political’ issues.
First of all, and central to the notion of the project, we asserted that the effective care of the bereaved could not and should not be provided primarily by professionals. The counselling was provided by volunteers from various walks of life. Anyone concerned with the bereaved will soon encounter the power of the professionals and the way in the experience of the bereaved can be readily defined for them by professionals. When is grief mental illness? How far should grief be treated by sleeping pills, anti depressants etc? How will grieving adolescents’ behaviour be defined and labelled?
That said, there is of course a role for professional skills both in direct work with some bereaved people and in supporting and informing the volunteers and the creation of the right partnership between volunteer and professional required a kind of political skill.