THE HOME AS A SITE OF FAMILY COMMUNICATED NARRATIVE SENSE-MAKING: GRIEF, MEANING, AND IDENTITY THROUGH “CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET”
Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Other Degree Name/Area of Focus
Interpersonal and Family Communication
Department or School/College
Dr. Christina Yoshimura
Dr. Steve Yoshimura Dr. Keith Anderson
grief, family grief, communicated narrative sense-making, death and dying, home
University of Montana
Communication | Counseling | Health Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Other Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work
This study utilized communicated narrative sense-making theory to explore the process of sorting through a deceased loved one’s belongings and changing the home after loss (referred to as “cleaning out the closet”), as the site of family communication and storytelling. Through storytelling, families make order of the disordered experience that is bereavement by negotiating meaning, identity, and family. The stories told about and within the process of “cleaning out the closet” elicit rich insight on each family’s experience with bereavement, loss, and life with each other. “Cleaning out the closet” narratives shed light on the interactions that occur between family members experiencing grief across a timeline, providing insight on grief communication, sense-making, and communal identity performance. “Cleaning out the closet” narratives provide insight on the discursive and material influences upon grief experiences and storytelling processes. Finally, analyzing storytelling content and processes of “cleaning out the closet” yield awareness of broader themes within the family and grief communication, providing translational implications for scholars, practitioners, and grieving families alike. Through 14 semi-structured interviews, retrospective storytelling content and interactional storytelling behaviors are identified. Family stories about “cleaning out the closet” included content of motivations, communication, and impacts. Storytelling interactions are discussed, including engagement, turn-taking, perspective-taking, and coherence. The findings suggest that the home is not merely a backdrop where grief takes place, but a dynamic and polysemic place imbedded in sense-making, identity, grief, and family. Changing the home, then, is an agentic and rhetorical act: a dense and significant story within the family’s whole grief narrative.
Barney, Kendyl A., "THE HOME AS A SITE OF FAMILY COMMUNICATED NARRATIVE SENSE-MAKING: GRIEF, MEANING, AND IDENTITY THROUGH “CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET”" (2020). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 11591.
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© Copyright 2020 Kendyl A. Barney