Much of my work with hospice involved encouraging life stories. Remembering times, places or things helps one honor the passage of a life time and name significance. Sometimes this becomes a way for families to connect or an opportunity for teaching the legacy of a life’s work. To be a teacher can strengthen esteem when catastrophic illness is diminishing so much.
I believe a very important shift happens when something is chosen to be told – a claiming that creates a marker. I think it both anchors and liberates. Reflection and reminiscence go hand in hand as one creates meaning from experience. Stories can also rewrite history and perspective. There are many pauses in the telling of story that are rich and important to respect. Silence can foster relationship as well as increased awareness. To be a good student careful listening and attention are essential.
Stories are captured verbally or in the design of one’s environment. My favorite form is the pictures or objects in a home. I learned to notice their placement and symbolism. I also found that it is possible to do much healing work with these in understanding sequences, ritual, and generational legacy.
Spirit fills space and what is internal is often externally mirrored.
I believe we can be more intentional about our own life stories to enhance our joy in living and connections with ourselves. One’s truth is unique.
I have found that writing poetry about some of my clients is another way of creating story. This has facilitated my expression of gratitude and allowed a release for grief. It is another path to shape shifting spirit and energy.
I have had clients who told their stories through pictures, dance, music, crafts, cars, recipes, toys, work history, journals, prayer, jokes, plants, clothes, jewelry, travel, and pets. One of my favorites was a man who had a hobby of whittling wood. As he showed me his collection each piece was about a time of his life, a place or relationship. His gentle handling of the pieces and description to me of their formation seemed to be a tactile memorial.