One of the markers of a life well lived is the stories, experiences and memories that are told, retold, remembered and cherished throughout the lifespan. Writing and telling stories captures the unique and historic moments that have become indelible memories. The process of recording stories leaves a legacy of living history for future generations. It also brings about enjoyment, deep satisfaction, and a sense of completion for the storyteller, especially in the latter stages of life.
When people we love die, most often it is our memories of them that we cherish the most. All too often those precious memories fade which can cause us to live with painful regrets for not recording the stories our elder/s told us. How many people do you know who say, “If only I had recorded their stories!”? That person was me. My dad was a colorful character who was full of stories that I never recorded. After he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 75, I lived to regret not recording his stories so profoundly that I’ve created Healing Stories to ensure other families don’t make that same mistake.
Healing Stories reaches out to the adult children of parents who are are nearing the concluding chapters of their lives to elicit and preserve the life stories of their beloved elder/s. My social work background includes extensive experience working with elders, and my specialty has evolved into helping elders tell their stories. One of my story coaching areas of expertise is working with elders in the early stages of dementia.
It is my joy and simply an honor to be on the listening end of stories, many of which family members may have heard many times before. As we go deeper into the story gathering and sharing process, it never fails that new stories emerge along the way. The context of the trusting relationships that are created through storytelling is key. You can entrust your elder/s’ and their stories with me. We work, laugh, and sometimes cry together in the comfort of their familiar home environment. Over a series of story sessions we co-create a body of work that can be left as a legacy, be it in the form of a book, a DVD, audio recordings, or photo collages with excerpts.
“These wrinkles are the hands of time,
The journeys I’ve been on
They’ve seen me through a thousand days,
And ev’ry victory won
These fragile hands, With exposed bones,
Are not a fearful sight
But rather, they, my faithful partners,
Rocked babies through the night
These eyes are weak, They see much less,
Than yours they’ve seen much more
They’ve guided me through birth, through death,
Through grief, through hurt, through war
These ears can hear so very little,
Yet they’ve learned to listen much
They perk up not for gossip now,
But for a heart to touch
Those younger often look my way,
With pity looks to give
Yet this old body doesn’t mean I am dying,
But rather, that I have lived”
― Emily Nelson