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Pastoral Care in Loss

As much as ever before, we are surrounded by people suffering pain and loss. Many of us have experienced significant loss ourselves. How do we care for those who’ve experienced loss? Learn about the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dynamics of loss. Develop pastoral skills for working with people experiencing loss. Consider the effects of grief and loss on human spirituality and relationships, and learn how to offer pastoral care.

This unit provides an introduction to:

(a) Physical, psychological, social and spiritual dynamics of loss.
(b) Pastoral skills for working with people experiencing loss.
(c) Pastoral issues in palliative care.

The unit will use a variety of teaching methods, including video presentations, interviews with persons involved in palliative care or bereavement support, and lecture and discussion sessions.

Lecturer: Dr Chris Turner
ith guest appearances from Pádraig Ó Tuama

Undergraduate: Level 2 & 3
Postgraduate: Level 9 Elective

Discipline: DP Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Level 2: DP1001S Introduction to Pastoral and Spiritual Care
Level 3: At least 18 points of foundational studies in fields B, C and D (including DP1001S)
Level 9: at least 24 points of foundational studies in Field D (including DP8001S)

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. identify a range of human experiences of loss.
  2. articulate strategies for caring for people facing or experiencing imminent loss.
  3. create a pastoral care plan to address issues of loss identified in a case study.
  4. articulate the effects of grief and loss on human spirituality.


Undergraduate Level 2
Reflective case study of 2,000 words (50%)
Research essay 2,000 words  (50%)

Undergraduate Level 3
One case study of 2,000 words (50%)
One 2,500 word essay (50%)

Postgraduate Level 9
One case study of 3,000 words (50%)
One 3,000 word essay (50%)

Select Bibliography:

*Recommended reading

Boss, P. Loss, trauma and resilience: Therapeutic work with ambiguous loss. (New York: Norton, 2006)
Dickenson, D., Johnson, M and Katz, J.  Death, dying and bereavement. (London: Sage, 2000)
Dyregrov, A.  Grief in young children: An adult’s handbook. (London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008)
Dyregrov, K and A.  Effective grief and bereavement support: The role of family, friends, colleagues, schools and support professionals. (London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008)
Karaban, R.  Crisis caring: A guide to ministering to people in crisis. (San Jose: Resource Publications, 2005)
Kelley, M. Grief: Contemporary theory and the practice of ministry. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010)
McSherry, W.  Making sense of spirituality in nursing and health care practice. (London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006)
Mitchell, C., Orr, R and Salladay, S. Eds.  Aging, death and the quest for immortality. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004)
Mucha, C.  Gently grieving: taking care of yourself by telling your story. (New York: Paulist, 2004)
Musgrave, B., and McGettigan, N. Eds.  Spiritual and psychological aspects of illness: Dealing with sickness, loss, dying and death. (New York, Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2010)
Nuttall, D.  The early days of grieving. (London: DLT, 2006)
Reed, F.  Suffering and illness: insights for caregivers. (Philadelphia: FA Davis Company, 2003)
Rumbold, B.  Spirituality and pastoral care: social and pastoral perspectives. (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2002)
Vogul, L.  Rituals for Resurrection: celebrating life and death. (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1996).