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Volunteer Chaplain Training Module 10 Ministering at the Death of a Child © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper.

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Presentation on theme: "Volunteer Chaplain Training Module 10 Ministering at the Death of a Child © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper."— Presentation transcript:

1 Volunteer Chaplain Training Module 10 Ministering at the Death of a Child © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

2 2 Death of a Child The death of a child The dying child Neo-natal death Ministering to parents © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit. Credits: I have gained much in this arena through reading and experience over the years. I am indebted to many sources that I cannot name. Three of sources however, need mentioning. I am especially grateful to the organizations RTS Bereavement Services (formerly Resolve through Sharing), Compassionate Friends, and SHARE. Without my encounters and training with these two organizations, I would have been utterly lost in comforting bereaved parents.

3 3 The Death of a Child THE most difficult of all death and dying situations Children seen as –More innocent –Vulnerable –Closer to “holiness” © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

4 4 The Death of a Child Tragic because of limited: –Experience –Responsibility –Self-discovery Tragic because of unrealized potential –Life cut off –Limited opportunities for physical, psychological, and spiritual growth © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

5 5 The Death of a Child --Brock, Journal of Pastoral Care, Vol. 48, No. 2, summer 1994.

6 6 The Death of a Child --Brock, Journal of Pastoral Care, Vol. 48, No. 2, summer 1994.

7 7 The Death of a Child --Brock, Journal of Pastoral Care, Vol. 48, No. 2, summer 1994.

8 8 The Dying Child Key issue for a dying child is –Abandonment Key issue for pastoral care –Incarnational Presence © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

9 9 The Dying Child Six means of ministering –Showing love –Listening & responding –Talking though feelings –Comforting the pain –Doing the “possible” –Helping “let go” © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

10 10 The Dying Child The role of the pastor involves –Treating the child as a person –Asking about & working through feelings –Blessing the struggle –Touching when appropriate –Standing as an “incarnation” of God © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

11 11 The Dying Child Key element of ministry: “Concretely sharing with a Child [and/or the parents] that God can be incarnated through the caring of at least one adult.” --Brock, Journal of Pastoral Care, Vol. 48, No. 2, summer 1994, pp © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

12 12 Neo-natal Death Types –Still birth –Fetal demise –New born death –SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) “A joyous occasion turns quickly to tragedy.” © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

13 13 Neo-natal Death Key Issues: –The baby is a PERSON “A person is a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss –The baby cannot be “replaced” –The loss is real –The grief is just as valid as any other kind © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

14 14 Neo-natal Death Appropriate Pastoral Responses –I’m sorry your baby has died. –Tell me how you are. –Tell me about your baby. –This must feel like a bad dream. –How can I help you? –You don’t have to be strong now. –It’s alright to cry; your baby has died. © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

15 15 Neo-natal Death Inappropriate Responses –It’s God’s will. –Oh, well, you really did not know this baby. –You can have another one. –Forget it! Go on with your life. –Cheer up; it’s not that bad. –God needed another angel in Heaven –“God loved your baby more than you did.” –There was probably something wrong anyway. –Don’t be angry/sad. –Be strong and don’t be angry at God.

16 16 Neo-natal Death Role of the Pastoral Care Giver –Begins the grief process and ministry to parents/family –Assists with funeral home/planning of rituals –Supports staff/physicians –Facilitates role of family’s church/pastor © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

17 17 Neo-natal Death Initial Decisions to Be Made –Seeing & holding the baby –Collecting memories –Autopsy? –Funeral home or hospital disposal? © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

18 18 Neo-natal Death Decisions to be made –Seeing and holding the baby Sometimes not advisable It is the decision of the parents Parent’s only chance to be with their baby A chance to experience some bonding Creates memories that will be cherished some day © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

19 19 Neo-natal Death Decisions to be made –Collecting memories Polaroid of baby Lock of baby’s hair Crib card Baby gown, t-shirt, stocking cap, etc. Footprints Blanket, wristbands, etc. Scrapbook © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

20 20 Ministering to Parents/Families What parents need most from us: –Listening –Empathy –Gentle voices –Touch –Caring presence –Calm in the midst of chaos –Acceptance of their feelings as valid © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

21 21 Ministering to Parents/Families Goal of the pastor: –To be an enabling presence –to offer a relationship of: Acceptance Personal responsibility Spiritual rekindling © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

22 22 Ministering to Parents/Families Task of the pastor: –Focus away from abandonment –Focus toward Needs of parents for each other Needs of other children Needs of the child who is dying © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

23 23 Ministering to Parents/Families Death of a child at any time is NOT –A time to defend God –A time to expound on a personal theodicy –A time to promise “healing” prematurely © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

24 24 Ministering to Parents/Families Establishing a relationship with parents and family –Is never easy –Early introduction allows for relationship building –Initial visit a time of support and consolation –Represent (quietly) God’s presence © Copyright 2001 Al Henager. Use only with written permission and with proper credit.

25 25 Ministering to Parents/Families Concept: Combative Christian Hope –Finds roots in presence of God in human reality –Seeks to give form to that presence in the lives of people –Struggles against evil to bring good out of it. Schillebeeck, et. al., JPC, Vol 48, No. 2, summer 1994, p157

26 26 Ministering to Parents/Families --Brock, Journal of Pastoral Care, Vol. 48, No. 2, summer 1994.


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