Perinatal Loss and Grief Part Two: An Awakening Spiritual Role and Response

pp. 130-145Date Published: 31 December 2015

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One in five pregnancies in the United States ends in miscarriage,stillbirth, or neonatal death (Hutti, Armstrong & Myers, 2013; Stratton and Lloyd (2008). While we do not know if that percentage is precisely the same among persons in congregations in the United States, we know that religion and spirituality are positively associated with bereavement outcomes (Becker, Xander, & Blum, 2007; Chowchock, Ellestad, Medor, Koenig, Hooton, & Swamy, 2011). The literature also suggests that there has been some improvement in recent years in congregational response to grief, though not specifically to perinatal loss (Garland & Yancey, 2014). This annotated bibliography includes a review of eighteen books and articles on the intersection of perinatal loss and grief with religion and spirituality, including religious ritual and ministry. This article is Part Two of a series of two addressing perinatal loss and grief. The literature comes from both secular and church-based sources, providing diverse insights into perinatal grief and the context of spiritual care. The growing awareness of perinatal grief includes the response of hospitals and health care professionals. The role of chaplains in medical settings over the past several decades provides a model for bereavement care in perinatal death. These responses and others are the focus of religious and spiritual needs and resources for families experiencing perinatal loss. The focus of Part One of the series is to explore societal responses in general to perinatal grief, the usefulness of various assessment tools, and specific perinatal grief responses of mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents. The focus of this article, Part Two, is to explore spiritual issues and responses related to perinatal grief.