Stories Beyond Life and Death

Spiritual Experiences of Continuity and Discontinuity among Parents Who Lose a Child

R.Ruard Ganzevoort & Nette Falkenburg

Journal of Empirical Theology 25/2, 2012, 189-204.


This is a study of parents’ spiritual experience of the loss of a child. Many parents experience continuing bonds with their deceased child as well as forms of posttraumatic growth. Twelve parents of children dying after severe illness were interviewed about their experiences. The interviews contain stories about premonitions, the intensity of the moment of the child’s death and the child’s presence after death. Thematically the stories reflect the dialectics of continuity and discontinuity in the relationship with the child. This is interpreted in terms of attributing meaning, significance and comprehensibility.