By Sylvia Lovely, Connecting Our Voices, The Story Doula
Several years ago, when the UK football team wasn’t doing all that well, I attended a funeral of a close friend. He died unexpectedly leaving us all in deep despair. The funeral parlor was overflowing. One after another, we came forward to offer testimonials of love. Finally, delivering the eulogy was his son, James. Approaching the podium with red rimmed eyes, he began. We fumbled in our belongings for tissue.
He stood waiting for us to settle only serving to increase the sense of drama that we knew was to come. Finally, he began. “Dad suffered; Oh, how he suffered.” After a long pause and just shy of tears beginning to flow, he added, “After all, he held UK football tickets for 40 years! Of course he suffered!” As soon as it soaked in – it took more than a few seconds – there was a burst of laughter that brought as much relief as if the roof suddenly went away and the sunshine bathed us in levity.
The point of this story is that we all long for the silver lining that is often embedded within sad memories. As we all know too well, life is filled with ups and downs. Those who sense and deliver on this reality are the best storytellers and, of course, eulogy deliverers. In fact, that is one reason we attend services – we want that uplifting of the human spirit that can save us from despair.
My writing tip today is to remember that the best stories are those that bring us to the brink of tears and intensity yet rescue us with fond and often funny memories. This is particularly true for those who are the caregivers of those we love as they face a final illness or who are recovering from the loss of a loved one.
My advice is to dedicate a journal to writing daily about the everyday lives we lead even in the face of unbearable sadness. Capture all the moments in short passages that can be curated and fully developed at a later time. When my mother was in the final stages of cancer we shared with her that we were sewing a “kilt” for my son, her grandson. Her weak response was “I hope the poor little thing didn’t suffer.” She thought he had been “killed.” The misunderstanding was hardly funny but the need for levity won out. It brought down the house with laughter and was just one instance of the salve we needed for coping with human inevitability.
Join me for “Writing the Stories of Your Life,” April 26 and May 10 from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. – In person at Good Foods Co-op. Come as we laugh and cry and form community in our beloved Good Foods Co-op Community Room around the subject of our humanity. After all, connecting Our Voices through our stories is often what is remembered with fondness so many years later.