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Spiritually is a universal phenomenon that closely connected with purpose, meaning, value and belief and comes into particular focus in the experience of loss and death. Although understood diversely there is consensus that spirituality is ‘a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. Spirituality is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions, and practices’ (Puchalski et al, 2014).

Birth, loss and grief are universally recognised as having spiritual and existential dimensions and impact. In pregnancy loss, expectant parents experience spirituality in both the anticipation of new life and also in the devastation of the loss or impending loss of their baby and the experience of enduring connection/bonds with their baby which has both spiritual and emotional dimensions. The provision of care in pregnancy loss also touches on the personal sense of spirituality and meaning of healthcare professionals.

Spirituality and Pregnancy Loss | Dr Daniel Nuzum

Our research in this area

  • Exploration of connection, relationship, faith/belief/meaning, loss in perinatal bereavement
  • Impact of perinatal death on healthcare staff
  • Spirituality
  • Spiritual impact of perinatal death
  • Theological reflection
  • Theodicy

Key publications

Category Category Keywords Year Title Abstract Actions

Journal Article

Journal Article Bereavement care, Neonatal death, Stillbirth 2021

Maternity healthcare chaplains and perinatal post-mortem support and understanding in the United Kingdom and Ireland: An exploratory study

Study with maternity healthcare chaplains identifies that perinatal post-mortem does not have any religious prohibition and that most maternity healthcare chaplains have been asked about perinatal post-mortem by bereaved parents. More details Read publication

Journal Article

Journal Article Impact, Spirituality, Pregnancy loss 2019

Pregnancy loss: A disturbing silence and theological wilderness

Pregnancy loss is a deeply challenging spiritual and theological reality for bereaved parents. Faith communities are challenged to engage at a deeper level with this often silent wilderness experience with greater liturgical and pastoral provision and robust reflection. More details Read publication

Journal Article

Journal Article Experience, Spirituality, Stillbirth 2017

Stillbirth and suffering in Ireland: A theological reflection from healthcare chaplaincy

Stillbirth is an immensely challenging spiritual reality for parents and for healthcare chaplains. Using Green’s theological spiral and thick descriptors, theological engagement, pastoral tenderness and empathic presence are key attributes for spiritual care following stillbirth. More details Read publication

Journal Article

Journal Article Experience, Spirituality, Stillbirth 2017

The spiritual and theological challenges of stillbirth for bereaved parents

Stillbirth has a considerable spiritual impact on bereaved parents. Spiritually, parents described searching for meaning, maintaining hope and questioning core beliefs. The faith of most parents was challenged and most not receiving adequate spiritual care in hospital. More details Read publication

Journal Article

Journal Article Impact, Spirituality, Stillbirth, Staff support 2016

The place of faith for consultant obstetricians following stillbirth: A qualitative exploratory study

Obstetricians experience inner conflict between their faith and professional practice when dealing with stillbirth. Study highlights an experienced incongruence between personal faith and professional practice when obstetricians are faced with the death of a baby. More details Read publication

Journal Article

Journal Article Bereavement care, Spirituality, Staff support, Staff training, Stillbirth 2016

The provision of spiritual and pastoral care following stillbirth in Ireland: a mixed methods study

Stillbirth is a significant challenge for maternity healthcare chaplains in their personal belief and faith as they provide care. Further specialist training and support is required for chaplains in stillbirth care. More details Read publication

Journal Article

Journal Article Spirituality, Staff support, Stillbirth 2015

The spiritual and theological issues raised by stillbirth for healthcare chaplains

Maternity healthcare chaplains are impacted by stillbirth as they provide spiritual care. Study shows that suffering, doubt and presence feature for chaplains in their pastoral care of families in stillbirth. More details Read publication

Our people

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,