Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, Vol 3, No 1 (2015)

Chaplaincy Support to Bereaved Parents - Part 2: Balancing Options, Openness and Authoritative Action

Mark Newitt
Issued Date: 10 Jun 2015


The second of two articles, this installment reflects on the way bereaved parents valued the support of a chaplaincy following the death of their baby. The article describes how some parents wanted options and others “authoritative action” and notes that co-creation of ritual is not always appropriate. Chaplains are described as authoritative in both religious matters concerning the eternal destiny of babies and spiritual matters of identity. The notion of a sharp divide between religious and spiritual care is questioned. A lack of clarity among chaplains as to their role is connected to the contradictory tensions of a society that has rejected religious authority and yet of parents wanting authoritative statements/recognition. Anthropological insights concerning ritual are drawn upon to help understand the chaplain’s identity. It is recommended chaplaincy support be written into guidelines/protocols for the care of bereaved parents. Chaplains are encouraged to learn more about transferential or intersubjective responses.

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DOI: 10.1558/hscc.v3i1.20543


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