Exploring a Grieving Process: an Autoethnography
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Grief is often regarded as a pathological emotion or a set of prescriptive phases, but I believe exploring grief as an adaptive, complex process unique to individuals may create more meaningful and diverse understandings of human experience, thus fostering empathy and connection. In this thesis, I use the autoethnographic method to explore, analyze, and convey meaningful experiences related to my grieving process as a result of my mother’s terminal cancer and death through sharing stories and reflections in an embodied first-person narrative. My research questions included: What was my experience of my grieving process? How did I engage in my grieving process and what have I learned about this process? I discovered that my grieving process was deeply connected to the influence that my mother and family have had on me. Our familial culture valued open communication, emotional processing, and the sacredness and spiritual aspects of life and death, which enabled me to make meaning about my grief. Also, my continuing bond with my mother and the way that I expressed it by writing to her helped me to engage in my grieving process and grow from it. I hope this thesis provides some understanding into how grieving can be a source of meaning, connection, positive identity development, and lasting love. Finally, I believe that exploring grieving and the meanings we make of this process may foster self-awareness, empathy, and witnessing in our lives and make us more understanding and accepting of others.