Telling the Story of Loss

In my work, I’ve come to understand that one of the significant reasons anxiety manifests after the death of a loved one is from not allowing ourselves to fully examine the story of our loss. Some people suppress their stories simply out of not having a natural outlet, and others do so from fear of feeling more pain. In the clinical world this is called grief avoidance, and it can be quite common and normal to want to avoid confronting the loss so directly.

But several things happen when we stifle our stories of loss. Namely we lose the opportunity to really explore that story, to unpack it, to deeply understand it, and to give it a home outside of our bodies. When we find ways to externalize the story we gain the opportunity to see the different ways in which the story we are holding onto serves us or harms us. 

The truth is that even if you are not sharing your story, you are still carrying it around inside of you. Finding ways to let it out, to look at it in the bright light of day, and to share it, helps it breathe a little. It helps us breathe too.

As a species, storytelling is one of our most ancient forms of communication. It is the way in which we have passed down lineage and preserved history. Telling stories is one of the most essential ways we learn about ourselves and our world.

Even if you do not consider yourself a natural storyteller you must recognize your innate ability to be one anyway. Think of the story you tell about how you met your significant other, or how you came to adopt your dog, or the first car you ever bought. There is always a story. And now there is the story of how you lost one of the most important people in your life.

I invite you to join Tembi Locke and myself next month for a 6-week memoir writing course, focused specifically around writing about loss. It will be a healing, cathartic, safe, and inspiring experience beginning October 5th. Spaces are filling up fast – I hope you’ll join us!