Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People

Penelope Wilcock

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This book is about life, not death. When we are with people approaching death, we feel a sense of awe, the solemnity of a great and sacred moment approaching. To accompany other people, along with their loved ones, up to the gate of death, is to enter holy ground; to stand in an awesome place where the wind of the Spirit blows, to encounter peace and grief, insight, intimacy and pain on a level not found in ordinary living.

An updated and expanded edition of a classic book, Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People is a fresh, original, and honest look at death and bereavement, including the author's personal experiences. Most of us don't realize how much we have to offer to those who are dying or bereaved. This book encourages readers to grow in confidence as companions, looking honestly at the questions people ask, and offering a reflection on the kind of God those questions reveal. This new edition also includes a practical section on how to plan a funeral.


Part 1

  • Holy ground: birth and death
  • The road to Emmaus
  • Who I am and how I am made: images of personhood
  • Flexibility: responding to the situation
  • Clearing the road
  • The habits of a lifetime
  • The lost self
  • Stages and cycles of grief
  • Stillbirths, miscarriage and termination of pregnancy
  • Finding and accepting identity
  • Deciding to die

Part 2

  • When Bernard died

Part 3

  • Loss without death
  • The loss of identity
  • The time of healing

Part 4

  • To help you prepare a funeral
  • Taking the funeral yourself
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Author info

Penelope Wilcock has worked as a chaplain in hospice and hospital settings, taught about spiritual care and palliative care for the NHS, and spent several years as a church pastor. Her books include In Celebration Of Simplicity: the joy of living lightly, Learning To Let Go: the transition into residential care and The Road Of Blessing: finding God's direction for your life. Her blog, Kindred Of The Quiet Way, reflects on simple and spiritual Christian lifestyle.


Very much a new edition of a well thumbed book the author's insights have not only stood the test of time, it first edition was over twenty years ago, but has become an even more valuable resource.

Written in four distinct parts - each easily read separately - it is useful for the professional pastoral worker in health and hospice care, people who are coming to terms with a significant death, those who have the pastoral care of people going through many kinds of grief, and some helpful notes for those called to the ministry of leading funeral services.

Though full of theological reflections, of which readers should not be afraid to dive into, it is a common sense guide borne out of years of ministry around the edges of life.

Penelope is able to be honest with her readers as she walks the path between being the pastor who cares and the church minister who is somehow expected to grasp opportunities for evangelism and conversion.

In her careful, often intimate, illustrations and reflections she brings her readers to a glorious understanding that Jesus is indeed wherever the people of God are and the task of the pastor is simply to reveal the light and allow the God of Love to shine in the darkest corners of our lives.

A book to be read and treasured by clergy and readers, pastoral workers and those in grief themselves.

I will be seeking out her other publications!

Reviewed by Andrew Dotchin

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857461155
  • Published: 15 February 2013
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
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