Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Communication and Medicine

More options …

Community as a key to healing after the death of a child

Sally O Hastings / George W Musambira / Judith D Hoover
Published Online: 2007-12-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CAM.2007.019


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.

Keywords: narrative; bereavement; connection; community; loss; online; bulletin board

About the article

Sally O Hastings

Sally O. Hastings (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida. Her research interests include communication and bereavement, cultural adaptation, and communication and stigma. She has published in Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Research on Language and Social Interaction, and Storytelling, Self, Society.

George W Musambira

Dr. George W. Musambira (Ph.D., SUNY, Bualo) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida. His research interests include communication in the partnerships of philanthropic organizations and gender and bereavement. He has published in Howard Journal of Communications and Communication Education.

Judith D Hoover

Judith Hoover (Ph.D., Indiana Univ., 1983), Professor of Communication at Western Kentucky University (retired), has published in American Behavioral Scientist, Southern Communication Journal, and Southern Quarterly. She also published Effective Small Group and Team Communication (Wadsworth) and edited Corporate Advocacy (Greenwood). She served as editor of World Communication, a refereed international journal, 1997–2002.

*Address for correspondence: Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, P.O. Box 161344, Orlando, FL 32816, USA.

Published Online: 2007-12-04

Published in Print: 2007-10-26

Citation Information: Communication & Medicine, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 153–163, ISSN (Online) 1613-3625, ISSN (Print) 1612-1783, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CAM.2007.019.

Export Citation

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Liesbeth Van Humbeeck, Let Dillen, Ruth Piers, Mieke Grypdonck, and Nele Van Den Noortgate
Death Studies, 2016, Volume 40, Number 10, Page 607
Erin D. Basinger, Erin C. Wehrman, and Kelly G. McAninch
Journal of Family Communication, 2016, Volume 16, Number 4, Page 285
Heather J. Carmack and Jocelyn M. Degroot
OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, 2014, Volume 68, Number 4, Page 315
Jocelyn M. DeGroot and Heather J. Carmack
Death Studies, 2013, Volume 37, Number 5, Page 448
Lynnette G. Leonard and Paige Toller
Communication Studies, 2012, Volume 63, Number 4, Page 387
Laura R. Umphrey and Joanne Cacciatore
OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, 2011, Volume 63, Number 2, Page 141
M. Chad McBride and Paige Toller
Southern Communication Journal, 2011, Volume 76, Number 3, Page 210
Paige Toller
Southern Communication Journal, 2011, Volume 76, Number 1, Page 17

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in