Metamorphosis via Suicide: An Autoethnographic Exploration of the Transformative Learning Journeys of Mothers who Lost a Child to Suicide

The purpose of this study is to understand to what extent can the learning that takes place after a suicide loss of a child be considered transformative. The study is designed to combine narrative inquiry and evocative autoethnography. The personal experiences of the researcher are intertwined with the narratives of the four participating mothers who, like the researcher, have each lost a child to suicide. Data collection consisted of two sets of semi-structured interviews with each of the participants. An autoethnographic analysis was employed through a series of reflections on the participants’ narratives supplied during the initial interview.

Data analysis revealed four interrelated themes regarding how mothers who have lost a child to suicide learn to move forward after their loss: (1) experiencing distress, (2) trying to make sense, (3) meaningful sources of support, and (4) comforting others who are suffering. Reflecting on their personal narratives revealed new insights for the participants regarding their evolving TL journeys: recognition of personal strength, motivation for further personal growth, and a hope for peace. This study reframes TL as an Emotive-Rational-Holistic process and lends itself to exploring new avenues for TL.

Format: Paper Presentation


Gina Whalen, Pennsylvania State University
Session Date & Time: Thu, 07 Apr 2022 | 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT