Ritual, Stillbirth, Infant death, Pediatric death



  1. Kobler, Kathie BS, RN
  2. Limbo, Rana PhD, APRN, BC
  3. Kavanaugh, Karen PhD, RN, FAAN


Rituals provide meaning and order to transitions, and symbolically connect people and events. Despite the prevalence of perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn death) and pediatric deaths, little has been written about the use of rituals surrounding these losses. The purpose of this article is to define the dimensions of a ritual as each pertains to perinatal and pediatric death, and provide concrete applications for use in clinical practice. Intention, participation, and meaning-making are the key dimensions of rituals that arise from clinical encounters. Initiating the discussion about ritual and the timing of the ritual itself are critical elements for the nurse who is caring for a bereaved family. Because of the paucity of research on using rituals in perinatal and pediatric death, nurse researchers should design studies that explore the outcomes of using rituals, both in the short- and long-term, following the death.