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'Excellent resource on dealing with bereavement'

Dying to Live: A Theological and Practical Workbook on Death, Dying and Bereavement 

Dying to liveDying to Live: A Theological and Practical Workbook on Death, Dying and Bereavement
By Marion Carter
SCM Press
ISBN No: 9780334052401
Reviewed by Moira Kleissner

One of the certainties of life is death. As ministers, and lay-people we all have to deal with friends and family who have been bereaved. This book is an extremely useful and readable resource that is grounded in good praxis and centred on Scripture.

The author, Revd Dr. Marion Carter is an Anglican priest, educator and chaplain who has had many years of experience in hospitals and hospices in the Ipswich area. She was Senior Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth and before that a tutor on the West Ministry Course. “Dying to Live: A Theological and Practical Workbook on Death, Dying and Bereavement” has very recently been launched by SCM. This is no dry tome but is an engaging and thoughtful read.

The writing style is engaging, succinct yet containing profound insights from theology, sociology, psychology, history and the various models of bereavement counselling. It is not didactic, nor complex but leads you through a process of learning, Scripture and reflection. Each chapter has at least one case history and then follows the pastoral cycle of practice:

Pastoral practice;
Experience – theological reflection;
Cultural context;
Scripture and tradition;
Scripture/tradition and context.
Subjects include:
Chapter 1: Laying the Foundation is an introduction to the book and illustrated a range of reactions to morality and death and explores the reasons for the changes in attitude.
Chapter 2: Care of the dying and their carers, considers the history of care when faith is signifigent.
Chapter3: Ministry to the Bereaved, explorers the experience of loss and how to respond to it.
Chapter 4: Another ending, examines the changing patterns in funerals and rituals.
Chapter 5: Liturgy, Theology and Funerals for the non-churched.
Chapter 6: Looking to the future, post funeral support.
Chapter 7: Resources for Pastoral Care which recognises the challenges of caring for the dying and bereaved.
Chapter 8: Joining up the dots brings together the chapters.
At the back there is a useful list of resources for the bereaved, a good Bibliography, on-line resource list, index of Biblical references and index of names and subjects at the back.

Marion Carter includes sections on the death, bereavement practices and beliefs of other religions which is extremely useful for those visiting in hospitals and hospices. The book, due to its very readable style and being firmly based on praxis, will also be an invaluable resource for ordinary Christians called to support and help neighbours and friends.

This book is a must for all ministers, whether in training or on the job; for anyone who does pastoral visiting it is also a useful, being easy to read, follow though and is firmly grounded in Scripture and the reflective practice model. It should be on every minister’s bookshelf – not to mention Deacons.

Why not buy one for your minister’s birthday or just as a present!


Moira Kleissner is ex-primary Deputy Head, Primary School Librarian, Minister's wife and storyteller


Baptist Times, 13/03/2015
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