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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422


BOTHE-SMITH, Santie  and  DREYER, Yolanda. The value of ritual theory for pastoral care in times of grief. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2014, vol.70, n.3, pp.01-10. ISSN 2072-8050.

In this article the focus is on ritual theory and its relevance for pastoral care during the grief process. For these purposes the first task at hand is finding an appropriate description of what ritual implies, especially in the context of pastoral care. It includes studying different descriptions from different study fields to provide a broad theoretical view of ritual and to identify relevant perspectives. This view is narrowed to ritual as performance as well as legitimisation of experience. Concerning the pastoral aspect of grief care the research mainly focuses on the work of the Dutch practical theologian, Corja Menken-Bekius and the American practical theologian David Hogue. Menken-Bekius' works on ritual from a clinical pastoral perspective while Hogue gives a neuropsychological perspective. Included in the processing of these two views are the works of anthropologist, Roy Rappaport and psychologist, Onno Van der Hart. Finding a description of ritual is not an easy task. The one offered is created with careful consideration of the inclusions and exclusions within the 'idea' of ritual. Meaning is subjective when it comes to ritual. A general meaning might be ascribed to a specific ritual, yet each individual might have a different experience and might attach different meanings. This happens unwittingly and unwillingly. What is found to be important in the rituals proposed in this article, is the ability of rituals to provide a framework of order within a situation of chaos and that it also creates a moment of remembrance.

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