I looked out over my audience – the circle of people who were so obviously carrying, physically and emotionally, the varied weights of their different losses. And I knew right away that how I had originally planned to begin our time together needed to shift quickly. We needed to become storytellers.
A few weeks ago I presented a workshop for BPUSA – a national organization, coordinated by, supportive of, and designed for bereaved parents. This opportunity played out in ways that were uniquely challenging, surprisingly educational and sweetly inspiring. As I welcomed people at the doorway to my presentation space, I was hit by a startling reminder: I am these people and they are me. None of us in this room have had the same experience, but we walk a common grief journey. And though there will never be enough time in this workshop to share our full stories, the telling, even in small ways, is where we find the grace within our narratives. So I began with a story.
The introduction to my most powerful real-life story came at 3:00am on a September Saturday when a policewoman knocked on my door to tell me my son was dead. That horrific visit started me on a life of single days and nights . . . each a story in itself. They began in brokenhearted misery and chaos; they morphed into difficult decision-making; some moved me into courage and others into discovery, and finally, day by day, I could share some hopeful stories of healing and reconciliation. The point is that my story did not end on that early Saturday morning. It continues to shift, one day at a time. Today’s report is that although grief will always be a character in my daily stories, it is no longer the protagonist nor the narrator of my days.
We – you and I – share this common space called profound loss . . . those experiences when What or Who we deeply loved and never wanted to outlive, leaves our life. We have all encountered deep and serious loss. We live those loss stories daily; they inhabit our physical and emotional and spiritual bodies; our grief narratives show in our faces, the way we walk and talk, the choices we make.
Our stories become the very essence of our daily existence. And, they change and rearrange themselves in big and subtle ways each day. When we’re finally able to reconcile to the fact that our grief reality is irreversible, we begin the work of re-shaping the plot of our storylines with intention and purpose. And our stories become alive with possibilities.
As my workshop companions and I moved through that afternoon, their stories took center stage. Participants both told and wrote different parts of the grief stories that were actively directing their lives, right now, as they sat with me. Some were even able to begin acknowledging the faces of grace that surrounded them.
What we each briefly shared on that workshop day was a candid and genuine personal story in real time . . . our NOW story. Any storytelling we reveal tomorrow will undoubtedly rearrange itself, reflecting how we each have decided to think and feel and live on that day. That’s the way profound, heartfelt stories work. They live, ready to be told in the NOW.
Find a listener, share your Now story, and know that it need never be the last word.
Wishing you grace of dwelling in all the possibilities of a grace-filled story.