Stillbirth and Suffering in Ireland: A Theological Reflection from Healthcare Chaplaincy

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Abstract

Stillbirth is a devastating experience for parents who in a short period of time move from the excitement and expectancy of new life in pregnancy to the depth of heart-rending grief in the experience of bereavement. Semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with parents bereaved through stillbirth who were cared for at an Irish tertiary maternity hospital. The data were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis prior to theological reflection using Green's Theological Spiral. This theological reflection explores the experience of suffering/ theodicy and providence as expressed by bereaved parents in the study as a focus for new insights to develop spiritual care by maternity healthcare chaplains. Theological engagement, pastoral tenderness and empathic presence are identified as key attributes for spiritual care by healthcare chaplains following stillbirth.

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Nuzum, D., Meaney, S., O’Donoghue, K., & Jackson, M. (2017). Stillbirth and Suffering in Ireland: A Theological Reflection from Healthcare Chaplaincy. Practical Theology, 10(2), 187–200. https://doi.org/10.1080/1756073X.2017.1296062

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