The telling and retelling of stories can bring great healing to the story teller. Throughout the years a common denominator I have observed has been the retelling of the same story over and over again by the same person.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when listening to a friend reminisce about a loved one, they get 'stuck' at certain points or details of the story? For one of my friends whose mum passed away, the retelling of the story always ends up at the point of 'life span prediction' which proved to be incorrect. "But Steve, the oncologist said she had 3 months or more and she only lasted 3 weeks." I have heard my friend tell this part of the story over and over again, spoken with varied emotions depending on the setting we are in or the 'mood' my friend is in at the time.
On Occasion The Story Is Filled With Emotions Of Sadness, Sometimes With Complete Disbelief
And Often With Absolute Anger.
As an audible processor, I personally need to be able to tell the stories of my own battles and journeys. Speaking and hearing the words somehow helps me to begin to bring the pieces together. So for me, hearing the telling and retelling of stories by my friends or clients is more than ok – in fact, I expect and welcome it.
The retelling of stories (even when filled with emotion) helps to bring understanding and to some level - release. The retelling of stories can also bring times of incredible joy, tears of laughter and even happiness. Often we place memories in the category of sadness and despair only, but this is a great injustice to the loved one we are remembering.
A close friend of mine was the provider of so many 'funny' moments, throughout our long friendship. Tragically he passed away, but what a joy it is, to sit together with mutual friends and retell the stories over and over. It is such a wonderful therapy for us all as we remember him.
Even more than that, I like to think that we are honouring his memory and the incredibly charactered and funny man that he was; he made us laugh then and he makes us laugh now.
The telling and retelling of the stories keeps our loved ones close to us. All great fairy tales begin with "once upon a time" and conclude with 'The End' - what happens in the middle are the stories we get to create, remember and tell."
Australian Aborigines have passed on 1000's of years of information and knowledge, customs and beliefs through the telling and retelling of stories.
Helen McKay writers of Australian Aboriginal Storytelling:
“The Dreamtime stories are more than myths, legends, fables, parables or quaint tales. They are definitely not fairytales for the amusement of children. Dreamtime stories are the oral textbooks of the Aborigines’ accumulated knowledge, spirituality, and wisdom, from when time began. The storyteller custodian’s role was really that of cultural educator.
The Aboriginal community regularly sat under the stars at night around the campfire – following their evening meal – and listened to storytellers unfold the stories from the Dreamtime, or tell of daily happenings, such as hunts, battles, etc. The written word was unknown to these people, so the Aboriginal culture was an oral one. The storyteller’s role was not just to entertain but to preserve their culture, while educating the growing generation of children and young adults – in the history, traditional values and lore of their people.” (http://www.australianstorytelling.org.au)
Storytelling can truly be a powerful tool for people to process and help understand the journey they are taking. I encourage you to not only tell stories (especially the great ones that put a smile on your face), but to also be that friend who will listen to such stories, even if they are told to you a hundred times.
May your story continue with joy and purpose this week.
By Steve Morrison