Students in this unit will develop an understanding of perspectives on all aspects of grief and loss, both in their own lives and of others. Attention will be paid to the development of pastoral skills and perspectives which inform and shape both the practice of care for those experiencing natural and traumatic losses and of self-care in response. Using cultural, spiritual, theological, and scientific resources, students will develop understanding of the processes and impacts of grief and grieving, including circumstances and situations which give rise to complex grief responses. Attention will be paid to complicated, disenfranchised and unresolved grief and a range of pastoral care resources and responses which can inform appropriate pastoral responses in a range of settings, and with people from a variety of backgrounds, as well as those for whom grief forms a part of their regular working/living experience.

Unit code: DP3300T

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Trinity College Theological School

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Outline a range of theories of grief and loss, with reference to cultural, theological and clinical perspectives


Reflect on their own experience of loss, identifying implications for their own practice of care for others


Articulate biblical and theological insights that inform the practice of pastoral care for those who experience loss


Develop personal, communal and liturgical strategies of care that address the grieving needs of individuals and congregations


Formulate a theology of grief and loss, considering the practice of pastoral care.

Unit sequence

Prerequisite - one unit in either DA or DP


Lectures, case studies, reflective and immersive practice

Indicative Bibliography

  • Attig, Thomas. How We Grieve: Relearning the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Boss, P. Loss, trauma & resilience: therapeutic work with ambiguous loss. London: Norton, 2006.
  • Doka, K. Living with grief: before and after the death. Washington: Hospice Foundation, 2011
  • Johnson, C. J. & McGee, M. G. (eds.) How different religions view death and afterlife. Philadelphia: The Charles Press, 2002
  • Kellehear, A. Death and Dying in Australia. Melbourne: Oxford Uni Press, 2000
  • Kelley, M. Grief: Contemporary theory and the practice of ministry. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010
  • Kelly, Ewan. Meaningful Funerals. London: Mowbray, 2008
  • Mackinlay, Elizabeth., Ageing, Disability and Spirituality. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2008
  • Neimeyer, Robert A. Meaning Reconstruction and the Experience of Loss. Washington: American Psychological Association, 2001
  • ____., Lessons of Loss: A Guide to Coping. Clayton South: Centre for Grief Education, 2000
  • Shapiro, Constance H. When Part of the Self is Lost: Helping Clients Heal after Sexual and Reproductive Losses. California: Jossey-Bass, 1993
  • Swinton, J & Payne, R. Living Well and Dying Faithfully : Christian Practices for End of Life Care. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009
  • Viorst, Judith. Necessary Losses. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986
  • Wright, Norman. Recovering from the Losses of Life. Grand Rapids: Morgan & Scott, 2006


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Book Review - Book Review 1250 30.0
Case Study 1250 30.0
Essay - Critical Essay 2500 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 27 Sep, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-27 15:11:27 +1000