Death-related grief and disenfranchised identity: A communication approach

Kendyl A. Barney, Stephen M. Yoshimura

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The death of a significant person in one's life forces individuals to engage in a number of grief-related tasks, including reconstructing a narrative about the relationship, resituating their relationship with the deceased individual, and developing a new sense of self post-loss. The dominant narrative of grief, however, generally assumes that the experience is a finite, linear process of detachment. Given past research challenging the reality of that experience, we draw upon Doka's (2002) theory of disenfranchised grief to propose that grief is not only a possible temporary state of disenfranchisement, but rather a perpetual, ongoing state of being disenfranchised. This condition is primarily maintained by the need to constantly navigate the lines between the dominant narrative of grief upheld in a given culture and one's personal experience and performance of it. We propose a narrative approach to the concept of grief as a potential solution to this problem, and outline several new potential avenues for research on grief.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-95
Number of pages18
JournalReview of Communication Research
StatePublished - 2020


  • Bereavement
  • Communication
  • Death and dying
  • Grief
  • Identity
  • Narratives


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