Reflecting on the recent losses of her sister, father, and mother in the midst of the global pandemic, the author moves from acquaintance-level grief communication encounters through grief communication with friends, family, and, ultimately, the self-communication that has sustained her during this intense period of bereavement. Building upon scholarship in autoethnography, family communication, grief, and trauma studies, moreover, the author shares bereavement practices that have helped her process loss. Following her personal narrative, she provides seven offerings to encourage the bereaved reader and support their grief writing. The essay concludes by challenging assumptions of U.S. culture’s “grief illiteracy,” with a call for white writers, in particular, to interrogate the social scripts and systems of power and privilege manifest in their grief communication. Moreover, the author encourages all autoethnographers to build systemic critique from their multilayered personal considerations of grief and post-traumatic growth.
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Research Article| April 01 2023
Listening to Layers of Loss
Maegan Parker Brooks
Maegan Parker Brooks (she/her) is an associate professor at Willamette University where she teaches courses about grief communication and co-facilitates a “Diversity of Loss” peer support group. Brooks also serves as a volunteer facilitator for the Dougy Center, The National Grief Center for Children and Families in Portland, Oregon.
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Journal of Autoethnography (2023) 4 (2): 174–192.
Maegan Parker Brooks; Listening to Layers of Loss. Journal of Autoethnography 1 April 2023; 4 (2): 174–192. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/joae.2023.4.2.174
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