Storytelling as Grief Care

“I’m sorry.  Someday I’ll be able to talk about her without breaking up,” the man assured my husband and me.  Sitting across from him at a party, we were blessed to hear stories about his beloved wife who had died two years before.  Tales of dances and car rides during their courtship, narratives of their years raising children together, and accounts of her cancer journey and final days – one by one he took these precious gems from the treasure chest of his memory and presented them to us.  Woven throughout these stories were apologies and promises: “I’m sorry for […]

Losing Stories:  Ways Dementia Affects Our Narratives

  My grandfather sat down with me over winter break my first year in graduate school.  “Amy Love,” he said, “I want to tell you our weekly schedule.  On Monday we wind the clocks, Tuesdays the gal comes to clean the house, on Wednesdays we go get Grandma’s hair done and have Chick-Fil-A for lunch . . .”  I had no idea why he was sharing this information with me; nevertheless I listened carefully and stored it away somewhere in my mind.  Within four months, he would be dead, and my grandmother would be left in the care of my […]

Telling Stories in the Dark:  Collective Narratives

  We sat huddled around candles in the darkened cellar, heads bent toward the center of the circle.  Together, we were taking part in a ritual that is amongst the oldest enacted by humans throughout our planet – that of sharing stories during winter’s long, dark nights. This particular basement belongs to a small, beautiful Episcopal church and thus has been the storehouse for a multitude of Jewish and Christian narratives retold across much of the globe for two millennia.  Each Sunday, congregants gather together to retell those stories, to ponder their significance, and to apply them to contemporary Western […]