Through the touch of God: Child death and spiritual sustenance in a Hutterian colony

Joanne Cacciatore, Rebecca Ong

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Scopus citations


    Nestled in more than 5,000 acres of farmland in rural South Dakota, one Hutterian colony flourishes with more than 23 families and a population of 115 people. Very little is known about the ways in which Hutterites experience traumatic infant and child death on the colony. No research studies to date have explored this topic. This is an ethnographic study that utilized extended observations of the group and both individual and group interviewing in order to create a cultural portrait specifically focusing on Hutterites experiencing traumatic child death. Observations were organized into five thematic categories: 1) details of the actual death experience; 2) emotional and physical reactions to the loss; 3) familial and communal response; 4) coping and rituals; and 5) spirituality. The role of communal mourning, ritualization, and spirituality in creating a healing milieu for bereaved families is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)185-202
    Number of pages18
    JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
    • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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