Revisiting Living in Limbo to Illustrate a Pastoral Psychological Understanding of Transition from Military to Civilian Life

Jan Grimell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The transition from military to civilian life includes a multitude of challenges for service members and their significant others. This transfer from one context to another can include, but is not limited to, a need for an identity shift, cultivation of an alternate mind-set, social reorientation, a search for employment, grief and sadness due to the loss of camaraderie, and/or experiences of alienation and estrangement from civilian society. Although the social sciences dominate this research field and dub it ‘transition,’ the ambiguity of the process can be further advanced through pastoral psychology. This article rethinks and reinterprets qualitative data to develop a pastoral psychological understanding of veterans through Capps and Carlin’s lens of living in limbo. This pastoral psychological construct embraces the ambiguity of the transition to civilian life and addresses it as a potentially complex and acute limbo situation. This construct can resonate with both veterans and significant others while also assisting pastors in providing care and counseling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-405
Number of pages13
JournalPastoral psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019



  • Living in limbo
  • Military
  • Pastoral psychology
  • Transition
  • Veteran

Cite this