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Community as a key to healing after the death of a child
Citation Information: Communication & Medicine. Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 153–163, ISSN (Online) 1613-3625, ISSN (Print) 1612-1783, DOI: 10.1515/CAM.2007.019, December 2007
- Published Online:
Communication is believed to hold a central role in recreating an individual's sense of meaning and well-being after a loss. Narrative theory in particular points to ways that people create meaning and connection with others. Literature on bereavement suggests that the formation of connections with others, or building community, comprises an important part of the healing process. For this study, the content of bulletin board postings commemorating deceased children was studied quantitatively and qualitatively. Data were examined to learn how contributors used the Web site to connect with others who shared experience of losing a child, engage in meaningful shared activities, and create community. Findings from the data analysis suggest that the Web site contributors are able to discuss topics that might be restricted in other communication scenes. The discussion of these topics allows them to serve as ‘witnesses’ to truths learned as a result of the loss of a child and enables the participants to keep the memory of the child alive. By participating in this scene of meaning negotiation, we argue that the participants actively construct a counterplot to societal narrative expectations for bereavement that facilitates the creation of some positive meanings.