Your Grief Story: How are you telling it?

Last weekend I was at a wonderful event organized by Life Matters Media, an initiative dedicated to spreading information, support and resources for all involved in end-of-life decision-making. It was an evening of professional storytelling about end-of-life care.

As each of the storytellers — David Boyle, MT Cozzola, Jen Bosworth and Craig Desang — went on stage and launched into their narrative, we, in the audience, sat enraptured.

Boyle told the story of his grandma’s death, and the wake which was on the same day as his 21st birthday. His words painted an intimidating picture of this larger-than-life woman.

Jennifer Bosworth told the story of her mother’s journey through cancer and Jen’s escape into a fantasy world as a way to cope.

Jill, a mom, went up on stage to share the story of her 16-year-old son Kyle’s tragic death in a freak accident and the family’s decision to donate his organs.

There was the narrative that broke my heart: of sharing the final, tender months with a partner who died of cancer, which culminated in a vision the dying man had of angels in the corner of his room.

What I experienced that evening was the power of story. Story is what connects us. It is the thread that weaves the fabric of our shared human journey. When we tell our stories, we reveal the essence of who we really are.

Think about the stories you tell from your life. When you share a personal story, you unburden yourself. When you listen to another’s story, you help lighten their load.

One of the most powerful healing tools is retelling our story of loss. We have an almost obsessive need to relive that story by retelling it. With each telling of our grief story we fit more and more pieces of the puzzle together. We embrace it and make it a part of who we are, who we will become.

When someone you know loses a loved one, listening is the best gift you can offer. Be patient as they retell the tale. Feel the tender vulnerability of their heart space as they speak. In entrusting their precious story to your care, it is a gift they give to you as well.

Storytelling is how we wonder aloud: Why me, what sense does this make, why does God take good people away…

Stories don’t happen to us; we create them. How we tell our stories speaks volumes about who we are. We can tell a story about being a victim. Or we can choose to rewrite the story in a way that empowers us. This is where we mine the story for meaning and purpose.

Think about your grief story. Are you in victim or victor mode?  If you’d like some help in rewriting the story with a view to empower yourself, email me. It can change the way you live your life.

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