"I have such sad news": Loss in Finnish North American Letters
Life writing has been an important tool for people to work through loss in their lives. In the context of twentieth-century migration, word of death and shared mourning occurred primarily through letters in the international post. Focusing on letters written by Finnish immigrants in the United States and Canada from the 1940s–1960s, this article analyzes some of the ways that letter writing has been used to address death and loss. Positioning personal letters within the broader field of life writing, this work examines how both loss and life writing often trigger a re/defining of the self, addressed in multiple and ambiguous ways by individual mourner/writers. In its unsettling of life, feelings, and connections, loss is a rupture of the self. By narrating their life, writers create personal chronologies, position themselves in places and communities, and declare their values. The life writing of Finnish North Americans provides windows into the difficult work of trying to assign meaning to meaning-defying loss.
Copyright (c) 2018 Samira Saramo
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).