“Cleaning Out the Closet:” Communicated Narrative Sense-Making of Bereavement

Kendyl A. Barney, Christina G. Yoshimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Communicated Narrative Sense-Making Theory was applied to 14 semi-structured interviews to explore stories of sorting through a deceased family member’s belongings/changing the home after death (“cleaning out the closet”). Family stories about “cleaning out the closet” yielded retrospective storytelling content themes regarding why changes were made/not made, how family members communicated when deciding to make any changes, and what changed or didn’t change as a result of “cleaning out the closet.” These results advance the claim that “cleaning out the closet” functions as a unique site where the instrumental task meets narrative communication openings for families, and that this task offers key opportunities for sense-making, socialization, and well-being during the turbulent period of bereavement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-271
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


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