Spiritual and Theological Challenges of Stillbirth for Bereaved Parents
Stillbirth is recognized as one of the most challenging experiences of bereavement raising significant spiritual and theological questions. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with bereaved parents cared for in a tertiary maternity hospital to explore the spiritual impact of stillbirth. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Stillbirth was identified as an immensely challenging spiritual and personal experience with enduring impact for parents. The superordinate themes to emerge were searching for meaning, maintaining hope and questioning core beliefs. Most parents reported that their spiritual needs were not adequately addressed while in hospital. The faith of all parents was challenged with only one parent experiencing a stronger faith following stillbirth. This study reveals the depth of spiritual struggle for parents bereaved following stillbirth with a recommendation that spiritual care is provided as part of comprehensive perinatal bereavement care in the obstetric setting.