Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Losing the Storyteller

Last week I had coffee with a fellow chaplain and he related a story of attending a family just after a death. He spoke of the frozen silence of the husband and his sons, as they sat, numb and disconnected, in the waiting area outside the hospital room where their beloved one just died. The chaplain and I spoke about the importance of the storyteller--the one who holds, carries, massages, and lifts up the family stories. In my experience, this is often a role the woman comes by naturally, through her sensitivity to relationships, her awareness of meaning, her valuing of the family bond. My heart ached for this family of now only men, men who had relied on this woman as their storyteller, the weaver and keeper of their many meanings, the nurturer of their hope. How, over the coming months, will they learn to become the authors of their own stories? Who will step in as the family storykeeper, willing to learn the subtle and sometimes difficult ways to listen, receive, gather, and share? It may not come naturally. And there is grief work to be done first. But stories contain healing and unlock the secret of our interconnectedness. This is a path I think chaplains and counselors can point to--and in some blessed situations walk along--as natural healing unfolds.


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