THE HEALING POWER OF STORIES

In ancient times, people gathered around the warmth of the fire to share tales of their ancestors: stories of brave conquests, legendary heroes, and tragic deaths. In the telling are lessons of courage in the face of adversity, hope in the midst of defeat, and enduring love in the face of death.

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Our stories give shape and meaning to our lives — in times of celebration as well as in times of sorrow and loss.

While modern day living for most of us no longer involves folktales passed from generation to generation, we likely all know someone in our circle of acquaintances who carries on the tradition of telling and retelling significant family anecdotes —sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always memorable.

Where do we go today to pass on the tales of our ancestors? Do we have safe places to share the stories of our loved ones who are no longer physically here?

In my book, HEART GUIDE: True Stories of Grief and Healing, I interviewed close to 50 people about the death of loved ones. Sharing the memories of those we love and telling their stories is important to our healing. Listening to the personal reflections of others is also useful. In doing so, we may discover something that helps soothe our suffering. We may acquire a source of strength to go forward in the world after loss. We may gain courage, knowledge, or comfort.

We may also find glimmers of hope in the stories of those individuals who have traveled this rugged trail of bereavement before us.

As Janet Brown (who lost both parents) points out in HEART GUIDE, “It was important for me to hear other people’s journeys while I was going through mine … not advice but just telling their stories. That’s valuable.”

Our stories of grief and healing are powerful heart medicine.

Sandra Harris, (who lost her daughter to suicide and her husband to cancer), states, “When we gather as a family, we tell stories. … We think that telling their stories is a good thing to do, and it speaks to the fact that the people we love are still with us.”

With time, the stories may change and evolve. Those who play a meaningful part in the narrative may come and go. New lessons may emerge. Yet always, what remains is the story of our deep love for those we hold close to our hearts.

Author Bio

Diana J. Ensign, JD, is an Indiana writer and author of ‘Heart Guide: Trues Stories of Grief and Healing.’ Her prior book is ‘Traveling Spirit: Daily Tools for Your Life’s Journey.’ (Her books are available on her website www.dianaensign.com and Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Guide-Stories-Grief-Healing/dp/0988332000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506360980&sr=8-1&keywords=diana+ensign+heart+guide. She also blogs on Spirituality for Daily Living at http://www.dianaensign.com/.  Diana is one of the panel speakers at the Spirit & Place event, Words Matter! Writing for Healing, Action, and Change, Friday, November 10, 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Panel members also include writers Phillip Gulley, Amber Stearns, and Barbara Shoup. Presented by First Friends Quaker Meeting 317.255.2485

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The Long Journey to Now

Diana Ensign

Diana Ensign

By Diana J. Ensign

Our lives are made up of numerous moments—most of which pass by in a blur.

We give shape and meaning to those moments by the stories we tell.  A collection of life’s fleeting moments get stored in our mental time capsules with titles such as, “When I moved to Indiana,” “When I graduated high school,” “When I got married,” “When I lost my job,” or “When my father died.”  We define our lives by pivotal events—how we handled them or failed to handle them, what we did before or after significant life transitions, and the lessons we carry forward.  Over time, these moments become the legends and myths we pass along to our children, share with our family and friends, and reminisce about during weddings and funerals.

I love stories.  My writer’s antenna is constantly tuned toward stories that make a positive difference in the world.  I love listening to them, and I love giving voice to them in a book or article. I love knowing people who have taken their life stories and drastically re-written them in order to be a catalyst for change.

“We define our lives by pivotal events—how we handled them or failed to handle them, what we did before or after significant life transitions, and the lessons we carry forward.”

At some point along our journey, we may arrive at an unfamiliar juncture in the unfolding of our life story. It’s that place—often discovered late in life or after a crisis—where we’re no longer running from grief and sorrow and no longer racing toward happiness and success.  This less traveled path is not highly regarded by our culture, because it doesn’t require outside validation or the purchase of goods and services.  It’s found in the here and now. For me, it’s a place of contentment.

Being in the present moment is simple; and yet, extremely difficult for most of us to do. Ancient Masters have written volumes over the eons on how to ‘be’ in the now.

Here’s how I try to make sure this moment doesn’t slip past unnoticed:

I take a deep breath…

I look around…

I feel the wind on my arm or the sun on my face…

I observe a white butterfly flittering near a yellow flower or note the reddish tinge suddenly appearing on the leaves…

And I say, “Thank you for this day”…

No past. No future. Just blue sky, wisps of white clouds, majestic trees, an ever-changing Midwest landscape, and an unseen mystery that defies all that we think we know.

Pause… Breathe… Listen…

The journey is now.

 

Author Bio

Diana J. Ensign, JD, is an Indiana writer and author of ‘Traveling Spirit: Daily Tools for Your Life’s Journey” (available on Amazon).  She blogs on Spirituality for Daily Living at http://www.dianaensign.com/.  Diana is one of the panel speakers at the Spirit & Place event, From Addiction and Loss to Wholeness, Saturday, November 8, 1:30-3:00 PM. Fairbanks Recovery Center, Rm. 128. Presented by Fairbanks, Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, and The 24 Group. For event info: 317-572-9469 or kgill@fairbankscd.org.