Authors: Jennifer Greenham
Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Honouring two lives and reclaiming another: A beautiful story of healing, self-acceptance and hope shared by Josephine and Jenny that shines a powerful light on the role of ritual in all our lives.
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Jenny is the Mental Health Leader at Spiritual Health Victoria. She brings a wealth of experience working in community, clinical and forensic mental health settings over a 30 year period. Her work at SHV is supported by an Interfaith Ministry Ordination and units in Clinical Pastoral Education. Interfaith honors and celebrates the many ways to know God and has been described as ‘spirituality without borders’. In her experience this speaks beautifully to the spiritual care needs of those with a lived experience of mental illness. The intersect of spirituality and mental illness is the very fertile place where much education, advocacy and inquiry occurs in her day to day role at SHV.
Additionally, Jenny co-creates ceremony and ritual with and for people who wish to acknowledge or celebrate significant life events from her private celebrancy business. She has recently retired from the Board of the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne after seven years of service.
This case study tells the story of Josephine, a 62 year old married woman with a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. Until a few years ago Josephine would have regular admissions to an inpatient unit in Melbourne. Underlying these admissions was the overwhelming grief associated with the death of her two daughters. Her status as a mental health patient somehow excluded her from participating in the rituals and accepted practices around death. As a consequence Josephine spent many long years in isolation with her grief, anger, confusion and despair.
During an admission in April 2015, Josephine spent time with a Spiritual Care Practitioner. A spiritual care assessment was undertaken and referral made to explore the possibility of co-creating a memorial service with Jenny that would support Josephine to acknowledge her losses as a mother and begin the healing process to reclaim her mental health and wellbeing. The memorial service took place in May 2016 at Josephine’s home with 12 close family and friends.
This presentation will explore the powerful role of ritual in our lives. The audience will meet Josephine in a short video presentation. This amazing story of courage and resilience will inspire hope and healing for others.
Learning Objective 1: Delegates will leave this presentation with an enhanced appreciation for the powerful healing role that ritual and ceremony plays in all our lives. It has the capacity to speak to the part of us that connects with something greater than ourselves and offers the opportunity to have our story witnessed and validated as meaningful and important.
Learning Objective 2: Just about all mental health clinical presentations contain some aspects of grief and loss. Sometimes those feelings need to be acknowledged in a way that is not usually found in mental health settings or treatment guidelines. Spiritual care thinks outside the box and offers an alternative way forward.
Anderson, H., & Foley, E. (2001)
Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals – Weaving Together the Human and the Divine. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Moore, J.T. (2013)
A Handbook for Celebrants and their grieving families. Geelong: