In this unit, students will consider the human experience of suffering, with particular reference to loss and grief, developing potential spiritual and pastoral care responses. Participants will be introduced to spiritual, theological, cultural and scientific resources to better understand the nature of suffering alongside the complex effects of short and long term, complicated and uncomplicated grief and grieving. Along with theoretical information, participants will be able to acquire tools and skills for spiritual guidance and pastoral care in a variety of settings, and be equipped to share these with their faith communities, their families and the larger communities in which they offer ministry.

Unit code: DP9004W

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Describe the cultural, theological and clinical processes of grieving, mourning and bereavement associated with life transitions, loss, death and dying


Identify the factors involved in safe ethical pastoral care for others;


Articulate theological insights and personal frameworks of meaning, that inform the practice of pastoral spiritual care for those who are suffering ;


Develop strategies of care that adequately attend to the grieving processes of individuals and congregations, including the use of appropriate rituals and community supports;


Demonstrate the capacity to integrate theology and practice in pastoral and spiritual care.

Unit sequence

Foundational unit in Field D


3 x 2 day semi-intensive sessions throughout semester, including lecture and group/tutorial work

Indicative Bibliography

  • 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.
  • Evans, A. Is God still at the Bedside: the medical, ethical and pastoral issues of death and dying. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011.
  • Gott, M & Ingleton, C., Living with aging and dying. New York: Oxford Uni Press, 2011.
  • Karaban, R. Complicated Losses, difficult Deaths: a practical guide for ministering to grievers. San Jose: Resource Publications, 2000.
  • 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.
  • Musgrave, B & McGettigan, N (eds). Spiritual and Psychological aspects of Illness: dealing with sickness, loss, dying and death. New York: Paulist, 2010.
  • Oates, W. Grief, Transition and Loss: a pastor’s practical guide. Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1997.
  • Swinton, J & Payne R. Living well and dying faithfully: Christian Practices for end of life care. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
  • Wright, N. Recovering from Losses in life. Grand Rapids: Morgan & Scott, 2006.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Case Study

Case Study 2000 words

2000 25.0
Book Review

Book Review 2000 words

2000 25.0

Critical Essay 4000 words

4000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-21 08:20:19 +1100