The role of spirituality and religion for those bereaved due to a traumatic death
After a sudden traumatic death, bereaved relatives may feel particularly distressed. We look at the role of spirituality (including religion, whether following communal forms or more individually expressed) in people's lives after the traumatic death of a relative. Our findings are based on narrative interviews with 40 people bereaved through murder, manslaughter, car crash, train accident, fire, bomb explosion, industrial explosion, or pedestrian incident. People were interviewed in their homes throughout the UK. A qualitative interpretive approach was taken, combining thematic analysis with constant comparison. A few people said that after the death they felt angry or cynical about religion, but many people turned to spirituality or religion for help at this time. People reported that through spirituality or religion they found practical support, comfort, help in making sense of what had happened, belief in continued existence beyond death, a way of ensuring 'continuing bonds', and healing. Despite declining church attendance and a decline in the number of people who call themselves Christians, it seems that in the UK religion still remains important for people bereaved by a traumatic death. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.