Writing the story of your grief

I have always loved stories. As a child I read more stories than I can remember. And when I learned to write I wrote my own. When I had no pen and paper I made them up in my head. There are stories that have been with me all my life. Stories that have become old friends. I bring them out every so often and visit them.


As human beings we love stories.

We tell ourselves stories about who we are. Stories about the people in our lives. Stories about the people we love.


The closest I have come to seeing stories depart is when losing a loved one.

How do you write a story that ends? Particularly when it is someone you love?

How do you allow an ending to that story when it is all so unreal and raw?


When my mother died, I discovered that not only were the stories about her now out of place, but so were the stories about me.

So much of who we, you and me, are is tied up in the stories our parents tell about us.

What happens when the story teller dies?

How do you fashion a new story?


When a parent dies the story you need to fashion is very much about who you are. Because your parents wrote the original story.

Now you have to write your own.

How do you do that when you are caught up in the unreal confusion and jumble of thoughts and emotions that is grief?

If the person who has died is your partner, sibling, or close friend then their story included you. How do you write the story when the hero of the story is gone?

How do you do that through the confusion and tumultuous emotions?

When the person is your child you have written most of the story. How does that story end when your child is no more?

It is likely you don’t know how to conclude this story. Nor for that matter do you want to.


I am reminded of the great epic stories of my childhood. The ones set in the past with great heroes and great adventures. The stories and their outcome were so important. Reading the story was a time of joy and sorrow. There was light and there was darkness. And there was always another day, more light, more darkness, light again and so on. One thing I always loved about these heroes was their determination to complete their journey. They were invested in what they were doing. So they persevered.

Maybe your grief is like some epic saga, a journey that traverses light and dark and comes eventually to a place where life seems calmer for a while.

Maybe your grief is something to endure. You may be so fed up with people talking about journeys.


Whatever you feel. You are here. Now. You are at the start of the rest of your life.

That start may be the first step in the journey of life, or it may be just a decision you are making to do something to cope with this place you are in.

Will you come with me?

You may call it a journey or just an exploration.

I am inviting you to leave your thoughts and the rationalisations of your thinking mind and come into the rockier, deeper truth of your heart.

It may be a scary place, but it is the place to start from if you ever want to get to a place where life is more bearable.

I am going to call this exploration a story.


The hero of the story is you.

You start this story at the point of leaving. You are here, wherever that is, and life is drawing you inexorably on.

Where are you?


I am going to use the metaphor of a forest on a mountain range full of steep slopes, rocky crags and cliffs that fall away forever. There are wild mountain rivers, autumn, winter, spring and summer. You will journey long and hard but at the other side of the mountain range there are meadows where the sun shines longer than on the mountain range. Where the weather is kinder and there are bridges when you meet the placid rivers.

What are you going to write about where you are?


Are you at the edge of the forest with the glow of the life you had with your loved one still providing some light to show you the path?

Are you deep in the forest struggling to clamber up a steep slope?

Are you in the early stages of the forest in autumn with the leaves, a multitude of colours, being flung around you by a bitter wind?


That is your task for today. To start your story. It doesn’t have to be a classic piece of literature. It is your story and that makes it beautiful.

You may choose to draw a picture of where you are, or make a collage.

Just tell the story of your loss and where you are at now, using the metaphor of the forest.

If you can’t think of how to start the story then try starting with:

“This is my story about …”

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief and its story, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

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