Chaplaincy Support to Bereaved Parents - Part 1

Liturgy, Ritual and Pastoral Presence


  • Mark Newitt Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust



Chaplaincy, Attentive Listening, Bereavement, Liturgy, Pastoral Presence, Pregnancy Loss, ritual, spiritual need


This article explores the spiritual needs of bereaved parents and the way chaplaincy support helped meet that need. It argues that underlying all other need was a loss of control experienced by parents. Alongside this, three further themes are identified: a loss of meaning and purpose, a loss of self worth, and a desire to do something. Liturgy and ritual provided by chaplains helped meet each of the spiritual needs. The ceremonies performed by chaplains were most meaningful to parents when accompanied by the chaplain relating well to them. Of particular importance was the ability of the chaplain to draw alongside parents through attentive listening. As a contrast to the rotation of nurses and doctors, parents often viewed chaplains as a consistent or constant presence. It is recommend that, if possible, the same chaplain provides support to parents throughout.

Author Biography

  • Mark Newitt, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

    Reverend Doctor Mark Newitt BSc, BA, MA, DThM, is a chaplain at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He trained for ordination at Cranmer Hall, Durham, and was a curate in Northampton before taking up his current post in 2006. Since his first degree in Pharmaceutical Management he has maintained an interest in healthcare, ethics, and spirituality. He has a Doctorate in Theology and Ministry from Durham University where the focus of his research was chaplaincy support to bereaved parents following the in utero or neonatal death of their baby.


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How to Cite

Newitt, M. (2015). Chaplaincy Support to Bereaved Parents - Part 1: Liturgy, Ritual and Pastoral Presence. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 2(2), 179-194.