Making the unspeakable visual: Memorialising the child that few people knew

Jones, Kerry (2017). Making the unspeakable visual: Memorialising the child that few people knew. In: Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meeting, 18-21 Mar 2017, New Orleans, Louisianna.

Abstract

In this paper, I discuss parents’ accounts of personifying and memorialising their child through a visual and virtual lens. As an extension of a real world memorial such as a gravesite, a virtual mourning space provides a space for personal narratives that are not socially or legitimately endorsed by the social networks to which bereaved parents relate. Parents often struggle to respond to others ‘awkward silences’ or seeming insensitivities. Virtual mourning sites, thus, provide a space and location for narration about a deceased child and with it a sense of community building. Parents can attend to the dual process of grieving ( Stroebe and Schutt, 2001) by attending to life and society by ‘putting on a brave face,’ to then one of ‘normality ’ in a virtual world where expressions of grief are acknowledged and with it a sense of meaning which can be derived from an otherwise stigmatized self.

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