The function of ritualized acts of memory making after death in the neonatal intensive care unit
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionVærland, I.E., Johansen, A.B.G., Lavik, M.H. (2021) The function of ritualized acts of memory making after death in the neonatal intensive care unit. Religions, 12 (12), 1046. 10.3390/rel12121046
(1) Background: Some infants die shortly after birth, leaving both parents and nurses in grief. In the specific setting where the data were collected, the bereaved parents receive a scrapbook made by the nursing staff in the NICU, and a box made by a local parent support group. Making a scrapbook and a box when an infant dies in the NICU can be regarded as ritualized acts. The aim of this study is to explore the functions of these ritualized acts of making a scrapbook and memory box when an infant dies in the NICU. (2) Methods: Focus group interviews were performed with experienced nurses in the NICU, and with members of a parent support group. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to interpret the data. (3) Three main themes were constructed: “Making memories”, “showing evidence of the infant’s life and of the parenthood”, and “controlling chaos”. (4) Conclusions: Through the ritualized acts of making scrapbooks and boxes, nurses and members of the parent support group collect and create memories and ascribe the infant with personhood, and the parents with the status of parenthood. In addition, the ritualizing functions to construct meaning, repair loss, relieve sorrow, and offer a sense of closure for the makers of these items.