Because I’ve had several losses in a short period of time AND because I’m an A#1 Storyteller, I’m also the person people feel comfortable sharing their grief with. I don’t mind, because, hey! I’ve been there and it sucks and the only thing that sucks more is needing to verbally work through your pain and no one willing to listen while you do it…
Plus, there is no story a grief-stricken person tells themselves that I find too crazy, unbelievable or ‘out there’ – I understand – you go ahead and tell whatever story you need to, to get through one more day – and if it’s not working for ya tomorrow, that’s okay – we’ll make up a new one.
I also do not care if it’s “True”, if there’s experential data or scientific studies to back your story up – did it help you? Did it make your load easier to bear? Did it bring you peace? If so, who gives a durn whether it’s ‘true’ or not – If it’s helping, stick to it.
If it ain’t, change it.
I’ll not only listen to your story, I’m also happy to help you make up stories until we find one that makes you laugh, brings you peace or soothes your heart. Just in case you have writer’s block.
I don’t care if your mother would think it’s crazy or your husband thinks its not possible- – – we’re not making up stories for them, so what they think is immaterial.
If it keeps your head above water while running the rapids on the River of Pain – that’s all that matters.
And we’ve got at least a million story lines to choose from.
In fact, if you’re currently in pain or suffering from some horrible-awful, I challenge you to come up with the absolute silliest thing you can to explain why, exactly, it sucks to be you right now – – if you’re thinking I’m either cruel or insensitive, I’ll share with you some of the stories I’ve told myself to keep me entertained on the days I wanted to lay down and give up, just so you know, I’m not asking you to do anything I haven’t done to myself.
(Note – any story including Aliens, Government Agencies or Celebrities are usually good for a laugh)
- Morgan is not really gone – he actually was recruited by the CIA and they faked his death – – and someday, when he’s retired and comes to find me in my hermit’s nest, he will tell me the funeral I spent so much time planning wasn’t really ‘representative’ of him.
- He faked his death, had a sex-change and is now traveling cross-country, disguised as Taylor Swift (I swear, her lyrics eerily echo some of the songs he wrote – Taylor, dear, if you’re reading, I love your work, I love your moxie and please forgive me – mothers who grieve are not the most logical folks…)
Okay – you got me – today was rough – I was jerked out of my acupuncture treatment nap today by the wail of an ambulance siren – – and I was instantly transported in time to the day Morgan went to the hospital and never came home. I tell you, it’s hard to sob quietly when cellular memory takes over.
Today, I didn’t want a story to make myself laugh – – today, I needed to cry – to find a way to release the million and one stored painful memories of sirens, blue masks, hospital smells and bemused faces.
So for now, my story is as follows: “Acupuncture needles release painful memories from cells in the body and thus allows the patient to go forth and no longer be driven to tears by passing ambulances.”
I like changing stories – frequently – Because the only time the storytelling hurts is when you continue telling the one that’s keeping you stuck – – the one you tell over and over that doesn’t serve you in anyway and keeps you prone on the battlefield of Life – – It’s okay to run in circles, but pacing the same ole rut only digs your grave – and if you’re not ready for it, then time to come up with a different story.
The only other caveat on story telling is it must be something you believe – or want to believe. Not what is socially acceptable, or the story others think you should be telling, but the one that resonates for you – – the one that makes your heart say “Yes! Yes! I like that one! Let’s tell that one for awhile, see how it goes.”
I could tell you a whole line of bull as to the meaning of all this and why telling stories works, and how metaphysics and science have proven that it’s “True” – –
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter –
What matters is how did the stories we told and the meaning we attached affect the course of our life – Did they add or detract from our daily existence? Did they move us forward, backward or spin us around and knock us flat? Did they lighten the load or bury us under it?
For a reason known only to the Universe, we are hardwired to yearn for meaning and cling to hope – any hope at all. In fact, I would venture these are our top two survival instincts. Belief that our lives do matter keep us from crawling into a hole and starving to death when the rip in our heart becomes so painful, we’d just rather be done.
Our hope that today’s loss will somehow be seen as necessary perfection from some other time or perspective allows us to wade through a river of pain we’d never dare swim if we thought our suffering served no purpose, that our loved one was not ‘needed somewhere else’, but was taken from us anyways – that both their lives and our own served no purpose.
We simply must make up stories in order to keep living – and our stories are funny and sad, lighthearted and soul-searching – gut-laughing and heart-wrenching – –
But they’re ours – and we need them to survive – so you just go ahead and tell any durn story you want.