• Imprisoned Grief: A Theological, Spiritual and Practical Response

      Graham, Elaine L; Mowat, Harriet; Baker, Christopher; Llewellyn, Dawn; Lane, Rosalind A. (University of Chester, 2015-06)
      This thesis identifies ‘imprisoned grief’ as a new phenomenon. The Living with Loss project was a theological, spiritual and practical response to it co-constructed by the research participants and myself as the practitioner-researcher. The project ran from 2008-2011 at both HMP Kirkham and HMP Whitemoor. My initial findings highlighted the fact that ‘disenfranchised grief’ (Doka 1989) and ‘self-disenfranchised grief’ (Doka 2002) were inadequate descriptions of what I uncovered in my research. Doka himself (2002, p18) called for further research to be carried out in particular circumstances including prison, encouraging my own confidence in the importance of such research. ‘Disenfranchised grief’ is a condition which people feel when unable to access support from family, friends, religious and professional organisations in living with issues of grief and loss. It is exhibited by prisoners where the acute loss of family, relationships, home, employment, finance, education and ability to parent come together. Issues of loss and bereavement accumulate when a parent or other family members becomes terminally ill or dies during their imprisonment. ‘Self-disenfranchised grief’ is a self- initiated form of disenfranchised grief where the self will not allow grieving to take place. I consider that neither description fully explains the condition I encountered, which I have called ‘imprisoned grief.’ Imprisoned grief is distinctive because it manifests itself due to the loss of freedom brought about by imprisonment; during anticipatory grieving whilst in prison; following bereavement in prison and loss acts as a factor in criminal behaviour which include loss due to homicide. My research offers spiritual, theological and practically distinctive coping strategies and insights into how imprisoned grief can be ‘unlocked’ and prisoners can feel liberated from it. Enfranchisement was established between family members by sharing feelings and emotions in group work and through the composition of and facilitation of faith rituals. I argue that it was their beliefs and spirituality which sustained, combated and freed them from ‘imprisoned grief’.