Skip to main content


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.

Daniel Nuzum, Sarah Meaney, Keelin O'Donoghue
Journal Name
Practical Theology
Journal Article
Experience, Spirituality, Stillbirth
The spiritual and professional impact of stillbirth
Full Citation
Nuzum D, Meaney S, O'Donoghue K, Jackson M. Stillbirth and suffering in Ireland: A theological reflection from healthcare chaplaincy. Practical Theology. 2017;10(2):187-200.
Link to Publication


This article is a theological reflection on the experience of stillbirth based on a study with the parents of twelve babies who were stillborn and cared for at an Irish maternity hospital. The experiences of parents were used to help deepen the theological and spiritual understanding of the reality and personal experience of this particular grief. The results from the qualitative study were integrated with a form of theological reflection ‘Green’s theological spiral’ as a way to reflect in a spiritual and theological way about stillbirth and to engage with some of the big personal questions that are raised for bereaved parents and those who provide pastoral care for them. The intention is to provide new insights for maternity healthcare chaplains and faith communities.

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,