Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday's Therapy - Telling Your Story

Thursday's Therapy

Telling Your Story


A TCF Speech – 8 Things I’ve Learned About the Grief of a Grieving Parent

Part Three of Eight

Jayne Raines Newton of The Atlanta Compassionate Friends mailed me this wonderfully therapeutic speech two weeks ago, and I'd like to pass it along to you!

Sunday, July 6, 2003 - TCF National Conference

Conference Closing Speech by Charlie Walton

Part Three


A third thing I have learned over the years is that grieving people need to tell their stories more times than their friends or family members are going to be willing to hear those stories.

That is perhaps the greatest value of The Compassionate Friends, a group of people who are not only willing to hear your story again and again but will sincerely cry with you the twentieth time you tell that story just as they cried the first time you told it.

These are people who understand, people who listen intently, people who will even help you tell your story. I don't know if you have noticed it but, if you are sitting in a circle telling what happened to you, those who have heard the story lots of times will actually jump in and add a detail you might be leaving out. If there is a first-timer in the circle, the veterans may add explanations and clarifications for them.

It has become their story too. They have suffered your loss. They repeatedly provide the exact response you expected from the whole world. Do you remember your outrage at the world for continuing as though nothing had happened? Do you remember the urge to scream,

"How can you go on like this? Don't you realize that my world has ended?"

So, I praise The Compassionate Friends. a group that meets a vital and normal need, the need for someone to listen with sincere interest as we tell and re-tell our stories again and again.

On the other hand, knowing that we need to tell our stories so many times should help us be a little more understanding toward friends and relatives who are reluctant to hear our stories again and again.

They don't know that each re-telling is helping to heal.

They don't know that each re-telling is therapy.

All they know is that you keep repeating things that make them hurt and they worry that you might be stuck in that story forever.

People who have not been where you have been have no concept of how long grief takes.

They think it should end in some "respectably short time" after the funeral.

Kay and I still have some understanding, supportive friends who will come to us as December 15th approaches and say,

"I remember that it was about this time of year that Tim and Don died, and I want you to know that I am praying for your comfort, and I want you to know that those two guys are very much remembered and missed."

These are wonderful friends who have learned... sometimes with a little training from us... that

"Grief takes longer than one year."

Thank you again to Charlie Walton, and to Jayne Raines Newton who shared this speech with me, both of The Atlanta Compassionate Friends.

Stay tuned next week for Point Four of Charlie's speech!


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