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Marking Short Lives

Constructing and Sharing Rituals Following Pregnancy Loss

Ewan Kelly

This book explores theologically the practice of hospital chaplains seeking to meet the spiritual needs of parents bereaved by baby death in-utero. The lived experience of bereaved parents, gathered through a series of in-depth interviews, informs such an exploration. Parents describe the trauma of late miscarriage and stillbirth as still being shrouded by silence, myth and misunderstanding in contemporary society. Up-to-date theoretical understandings of grief are also re-examined in light of parents’ stories of living with baby death. This book offers suggestions as to how the actual spiritual needs of parents may be met and their grief sensitively facilitated through the sharing of rituals co-constructed by parents and chaplain which seek to have theological integrity yet be relevant in our postmodern age. In our prevalent culture of caring, where increasingly ongoing professional and personal development are regarded as normative, recommendations are made which may aid reflection on current, or shape future, practice for chaplains, pastors, students and various healthcare professionals.
Contents: Postmodern context – The development of holistic care for bereaved parents – Spiritual care: preparation, assessment and provision – An introduction to ritual – Parental expectations and experience – Meeting parental spiritual needs: ritual and its co-construction – Weaving together the human and the divine.