Belonging and Detachment 7

Many societies have developed the notion that for every birth there must be a corresponding death. One of the implications of undertaking the Bereavement Project was that other work had to be given up. I have been interested in the reluctance of many social workers to specialise, where the need to relinquish other work feels too great a demand. Just as the community to which one belongs can feel like a trap, a restraint, to be escaped, so undertaking a particular social work task can feel stifling and constraining. The tendency in the new town setting, as probably in other places, for new projects to be started with enthusiasm but then to decline and disintegrate, seems to arise in part from the depression that comes from commitment to a task. To achieve something seems to involve a heightened awareness of what cannot be done. I suppose those older and wiser than me will nod at this, but it remains a personal discovery with which I still struggle. For some of our clients, the death of a loved one seems like the first time they have faced the limits of what they can achieve and their impotence in the face of death comes as a profound and frightening shock.

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