Love and Loss in Spiritual Memoir

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This project represents the intersection of two of the biggest influences in my life story thus far: my Christian faith, and my older brother’s life and death. In the ten years since his motorcycle accident, writing has been one of the biggest ways for me to process my grief. By transferring my memories of the two of us from early childhood to young adulthood onto paper, I mark them as both important and permanent, rather than letting them fade with time. The first section tells about my background in writing and studying memoir. Sections two and three consist of my analysis of two spiritual memoirs that revolve around the death of a loved one. I examined Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son by Richard Lischer, and Touching the Edge: A Mother’s Spiritual Path from Loss to Life, by Margaret Wurtele. Piece by piece I reflected on each author’s use of rhetorical tools and liturgical elements to shape a story that touches the reader’s heart and spirit. In section four, I discuss how I use my findings to build my own work. The fifth section is my personal spiritual memoir. I constructed my story following the order of worship commonly found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including elements such as confession, scripture and song. The story highlights my faith journey in the shadow of my brother’s death as I strive to paint a picture of an admirable young man who lived a full life in twenty short years, and to honor him and memorialize his life for those he left behind.





Cunningham Taylor, Samantha (2016). Love and Loss in Spiritual Memoir. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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