We all have our sad stories to tell, but the more we tell them, the more harm they can do to us.
When grief is new, it is important to tell the story of your loss especially with others that have also experienced a loss, so you can feel your feelings and process what happened. It does “rip off the Band-Aid” each time and doing that has its place in your grief journey.
But retelling your story repeatedly over a long period of time begins to do more harm than good.
The constant retelling of the story only churns up emotions and can create destructive thoughts. It puts you back to when the loss first happened and it leaves you stuck there. It’s like tires spinning deeper and deeper grooves into the mud and it makes it that more difficult to move forward.
When my parents died, I used to go into a lot more detail about their deaths when someone asked (a poor lady that interviewed me for a job a month after they died can attest to this!) But now I just say that they died (mom of brain cancer and dad of heart disease) and most people don’t really want to know more than that.
I’m not saying to bury your feelings or to run away from your story, but just stop yourself when you are tempted to tell it and ask yourself what your intention is.
Do you want to share your experience to support or inspire someone else?
Do you feel like there are emotions in the story that you need to feel through some more so you can move forward?
Do you want someone who is close to you to know you better?
If yes, then you should probably tell your story.
Do you want sympathy from others?
Do you feel like it is the only story in your life worth telling?
Do you feel an obsession or compulsion to tell it?
If yes, then you may want to look at those intentions more closely before you keep wearing those grooves into your brain.
There is a Native American tale about a man who says, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” When he was asked which wolf will win the fight in his heart, the old man replied, “The one I feed.”
Which wolf inside you are you feeding with your stories?