Into the Depths: A Chaplain's Reflections on Death, Dying and Pastoral Care


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Book Details

Rating: ★★★★★

Format: Paperback (188 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-032-6

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Pastoral care often takes clergy and other ministers into the depths of human life. As a chaplain and priest in prisons and a hospice, Rosie Deedes has encountered death and dying on many occasions. In this reflective and practical book, she considers the nature of pastoral care, particularly in situations that take minsters to the edge of institutions and society. This book will help those who engage in ministry to understand the key features of pastoral care; what qualities those who provide it need; and how those who offer it can remain resilient.

The book tackles some of the taboo subjects around death and dying; and it shows how listening to those we encounter, as well as reflecting on Jesus’ own death and dying, can enable good pastoral care to take place. She argues that chaplaincy, as a ministry on the edge, is vital to the life and work of the Church in the twenty-first century, and that pastoral care is an essential component of all ministry. She offers insights from her extensive experience of pastoral situations which will inform and enrich the practice of all who show care to others.

Rosie Deedes manages to provide a thoughtful introduction to multifaith chaplaincy, and an informed and helpful framework for pastoral care which she uses to examine ways in which chaplains can stay fresh and resilient. She does this in the context of a sustained reflection on death and loss that includes not only practical advice on funerals and memorial services but also reminds readers of the importance of a good death. This is a brave book growing out of Rosie’s personal reflections of saying goodbye to her Dad as well as working in a number of chaplaincy contexts. I would warmly commend it to all chaplains and to those who may be considering chaplaincy as well as those who are involved in any form of ministry to those dealing with issues of loss.

The Venerable Mike Kavanagh, Associate Priest in the Garrowby Benefice and retired Chaplain General to Prisons

Rosie is uniquely placed to plunge into the depths of the human condition, serving as she has in the three contrasting ministries of prison, university and hospice chaplaincy. She has also plunged the depths of her own experience, particularly in connection with the death of her father, to whom this book is dedicated. Although it is chiefly concerned with endings born out of separation and loss, there is a sense in which, as with Jesus himself, each suffering, each death has within it the seeds of new growth and new life. It is an essay in human and divine compassion.

The Revd Dr Gregory Clifton-Smith, Canon Emeritus, Winchester Cathedral​

In this terrific book Rosie Deedes seamlessly combines the profound and the practical. That was also my experience of working alongside Rosie in the prison that I governed. There is literally no escape in custody from the necessity of confronting the “total pain” which she describes in examples drawn from both her own ministry and her own bereavement. But this book has the courage to grapple with the faith-challenging dilemmas posed by those examples, while showing the ways in which one human being’s care for another can fundamentally affect an experience that all of us will one day confront.​

Peter Dawson, Prison Reform Trust

To spend time hearing another into speech is the deepest form of human accompaniment a person can be offered. And that’s what this book does many times over. The censored voice of the inmate; the liminal voice of the dying; the cracked voice of the bereaved; the strained voice of professionals and the rhythmic voice of the Christian tradition are all heard and honoured in these pages. It all starts in the dark – for sure – but the ending is far from predictable. In this short volume, Rosie Deedes extends her role as chaplain to include you and I, her readers, as she accompanies us through the labyrinthine dark and light experiences of our own lives.

Michael Paterson, Director, Institute of Pastoral Supervision and Reflective Practice​

Deedes writes with insight and compassion, and uses biblical texts, not to provide formulaic answers to grief or suffering, but rather in emphasising the raw reality of Jesus’ own fears and feelings of abandonment and pain. She also deals with the taboos surrounding death, and imprisonment. This is a thoughtful book that provides much useful advice for all those involved in caring for others.

Marie Paterson, Transforming Ministry

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