The importance of storytelling can never be emphasized too much. If you’ve read this column for a while, you know it’s a large part of why I write. Storytelling is important in creating a connection between individuals. It’s how we build community. Our ancestors were avid storytellers. Some stories were embellished, but within even those were elements of truth. Storytelling allows us to share information that otherwise makes us feel too uncomfortable to share. The necessity is that sharing helps us feel less alone, abandoned, and lonely.

Grief has many elements and is an excellent example of feelings that want to be shared safely. Sometimes, groups feel safe, but it can be awkward to broach some grief-related subjects. Grief brings intensity of emotions, like water brought to a rolling boil, begging to overflow. It is messy. Life is messy. Amid grief, we think no one understands or can understand.

I agree no one can completely understand because each situation is unique, but we can appreciate the commonality of grief. We can all understand the gut-ripping clutch that grief has on us amid loss and causes us to clench our fists and grit our teeth. Or curl up in a ball and wonder why we can’t breathe. We often think of grief when a loved one passes, but grief arises after all kinds of loss.

Story-telling our journey of grief opens us up to vulnerability. It may be an ugly sharing, or it may be soft and gentle. Either way, it allows us to be seen, heard, and validated when shared in a safe place of no judging and listening for understanding rather than to fix.

And while grief makes us feel isolated in a space that often leaves us gasping for air when we have a safe place to share our experience, we can breathe more easily. knowing that there is a witness to our journey. We feel even more validated when we look around and see nodding heads in agreement, with comments of “I know. I felt that way, too”.

These days, few communities offer opportunities for sharing experiences, let alone grief sharing. We rarely stop in someone’s home, unannounced, with coffee in hand and maybe a muffin or two. Often, we ignore our ringing phones or text messages; at least, I’ve been guilty of that, and the younger generations seem even more guilty of not answering text messages or phone calls.

Then there is the lack of cards in the mailbox, so it goes with each passing moment wasted when we could have asked, “Are you okay?” or “What are you feeling today?” These queries don’t have to be tied to grieving; generally, keeping in touch is good. There’s no vaccine for loneliness. The antidote, the remedy, is in being human with each other.

I want to talk more about these situations and topics because I’m very much into community building and feel deeply we have lost our connection. How can a society heal when we don’t even talk to each other?

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