The deritualization of death : toward a practical theology of caregiving for the bereaved

Gibson, Charles Lynn (2016-11-23)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The problematic field of investigation for the dissertation was a focused concern for the pastoral care of bereaved human beings in the context of significant cultural shifts now shaping the twenty-first century. Deritualization was identified as a significant interdisciplinary concern for bereavement care practitioners. The objective of the research was the development of a practical theology of compassionate caregiving for the bereaved with deference to the problem of deritualization. The theoretical framework was guided by the Oxford Interdisciplinary Research model and the Loyola Institute of Ministries model of practical theology. The study was designed for applied research for funeral directors and vocational pastors utilizing qualitative research methods. Hermeneutical and empirical components addressed six research questions through two domains of inquiry: disciplinary perspectives and educational dynamics of bereavement caregiving. Using the method of hermeneutics to critically evaluate the first two research questions, three disciplinary fields of knowledge were examined and integrated from the perspective of pastoral care: funeral service, bereavement psychology, and practical theology. Each discipline individually converged upon meaningful caregiving, meaning-reconstruction, and meaning-reframing as significant modes of bereavement care. Using ethnographic semi-structured interviews to critically evaluate the remaining four research questions, data were collected from a Christian university and a mortuary college. The interview questionnaire included twenty-five main questions organized in four parts: Philosophy of Education, Hermeneutics of Bereaved Families, Care of Bereaved Families, and Encounter of Bereaved Families. The study utilized two cycles of qualitative coding techniques to report the findings of each participating school. A hybrid form of in vivo and holistic coding as well as a second cycle of pattern coding distilled the interview responses into actionable statements that reinforced bereavement caregiving. By synthesizing all of the findings, a compelling case was made for a paradigm of comforting presence supported by principles from a Louwian perspective of practical theology, including theological anthropology, promissiotherapy, bipolarity, and hermeneutics. The study connected a philosophy of meaning-reframing and a paradigm of comforting presence to a meta-theoretical framework within a narrative approach to care. The research elucidated an interdisciplinary understanding that contributed toward a compassionate practical theology of caregiving for the bereaved.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die agtergrond van die navorsing is die kulturele skuif binne die Amerikaanse samelewing, naamlik ‘n toenemende deritualisering van dood, veral tydens die fase van die begrafnis en die tref van reëlings deur die familie en die begrafnisondernemer. Die navorsing poog om te verstaan hoe pastoraat in rousmart aan treurendes en lydendes, troos en hoop kan gee, veral aan naasbestaandes wat worstel met die afskeidskrisis na die dood en sterwe van ‘n geliefde. Die navorsingsvraag is die volgende: wat is die moontlike impak van deritualisering op die interaktiewe verband tussen verlies, treurwerk en die spirituele dimensie van singewende hanteringsmeganismes? (Onder andere, veral die worsteling met die vraagstuk van sin en die internalisering van verlies binne die eksistensiële realiteite van die lewe). Deritualisering is geïdentifiseer as ‘n beduidende interdissiplinêre vraagstuk vir professionele pastorale sorg en alle ander partye/professies betrokke by die proses van treur en rousmart. Die Oxford Interdissipinêre Navorsingsmodel asook Loyola Instituut se Bedieningsmodel vir Praktiese Teologie is gekies as die teoretiese raamwerk vir die navorsingsprojek. Die studie-ontwerp fokus op toegepaste navorsing met die oog op die professionele werk van begrafisondernemers/direkteure en gemeentelike pastors. Vir dié doel is gebruik gemaak van ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodologie wat ruimte laat vir beide ‘n hermeneutiese sowel as empiriese navorsingskomponent. Binne die raamwerk van ‘n hermeneutiese metodologie, word drie dissiplinêre kenvelde vanuit die perspektief van pastorale sorg ondersoek: die diens van die tradisionele begrafnisondernemer, die insigte van treurwerk vanuit ‘n psigologiese perspektief, en die dissipline van praktiese teologie. Die basiese aanname is dat al drie hierdie velde op een of ander wyse betrokke is by die sinvraagstuk, naamlik (a) sinvolle sorg, (b) rekonstruksie van sinvelde en (c) paradigmatiese herkonstruksie van sin-raamwerke. Al drie word beskou as beduidende modi van rousmartpastoraat. Die navorsing is vooraf gegaan deur ‘n piloot-studie. Navorsingsdata is daarna versamel by ‘n Christelike universiteit asook ‘n kollege vir die opleiding van begrafnisondernemers en lykbesorgers. Daar is gebruik gemaak van etnografiese, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude. Die vraelys vir die ondehoude het vyf-en-twintig vrae ingesluit. Dit is in vier afdelings georganiseer: filosofie van opvoedkunde; hermeneutiek van families wat treur as gevolg van die verlies van ‘n geliefde; gesinspastoraat aan treurendes; en die ontmoetingsgesprek met gesinslede tydens die fase van afsterwe. Die studie het gebruik gemaak van twee sirkels van kwalitatiewe koderingstegnieke ten einde die bevindings van elke deelnemende groep te rapporteer. ‘n Hibriede vorm van in vivo en holistiese kodering, asook ‘n tweede siklus van patroon-kodering is gevolg ten einde die onderhoudsresponse te verfyn en te verwerk met die oog op aksie-gerigte stellings wat die prosesse van treurpastoraat en sinverwerking kan versterk. Deur middel van ‘n proses van sintetisering is die volgende bevinding gemaak: die noodsaak van ‘n vertroostende teenwoordigheid. Hierdie vorm van daar-wees-pastoraat moet ondersteun word deur ‘n prakties-teologiese model van teologiese antropologie, bipolêre epistemologie en hermeneutiese metodologie soos voorgestel in D.J. Louw se promisioterapeutiese model vir hooppastoraat en ‘n teologiese hermeneutiek van heling in lyding. Ten einde die vraagstuk van deritualisering en reritualisering aan te spreek, verbind die studie die paradigma van vertroostende teenwoordigheid, en die filosofie van die herstrukturering van paradigmas vir singewing en sinneming, aan ‘n meta-teoretiese raamwerk wat ruimte laat vir ‘n narratiewe benadering tot pastorale sorg. Die bydrae van die navorsingsprojek lê op die vlak van Christelike spiritualiteit binne ‘n interdissiplinêre verstaan van rousmartpastoraat aan treurendes en die professie van pastorale sorg as afdeling van die dissipline: praktiese teologie.

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