Re-membering the narratives of the deceased: A reflexive autoethnography on family relationships
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The purpose of this reflexive autoethnography is to investigate ways in which the perceptions of our relationships with our deceased loved ones can be shifted through the exploration of their narratives using a narrative informed approach. In this autoethnography I examine my perceptions of my parents’ narratives and my relationships with each of them through therapeutic conversations, cultural rituals and remembrances, dialogues with my siblings, and other modes of self expression to shift perspectives of the past, uncover meaning, and strengthen family bonds. This autoethnography considers how these conversations, reflections, and practices in which we remember our deceased in particular ways may shape the perspectives we have of our relationships. I review the concepts of and dominant discourses on grief and closure, and the impacts these constructs have on our perceptions of our relationships with the deceased and present more contemporary views of continuing bonds and opportunities edit our perceptions and stories. Through a series of remembrances practices, I aim to reflect on what was understood, learned, and revealed to me during the process of remembering. Hedtke (2014) notes that remembering “affirms the life of the deceased, rather than their absence” (p. 6) and this allows for the family members to continue to access comfort and to treasure the connection with their deceased. The aim is to highlight the ways that we can bring forth alternative perceptions to acknowledge and honour the contributions of our beloved deceased and strengthen the bonds with both the living and the dead.