Material ambiguities of losing a parent: Time, clothing and grief during terminal illness

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In the spring of 2023, my father, Arturo, died of brain cancer at the age of 55, after a decade of illness. As he was dying, I began to process my anticipatory grief by writing about my emotional attachments to his clothing. Drawing on material culture, affect and design theory, this article looks at my family’s personal experience of my father’s illness and death to investigate the emotional possibilities and limits of garments belonging to palliative care patients and their loved ones. By looking closely at the material resonances of my father’s clothing while he died, this article explores how clothes reflect the confusing nature of time, grief and love when losing a parent to long-term illness. In theorizing the experience of losing a parent through a material culture lens, this article explores the liminality of anticipating a significant familial loss and the affective qualities of the garments that endure through it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Fashion Studies
Early online date20 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2024

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