Storytellers Reflect on Sharing Tales of Love, Loss and Transformation

FEBRUARY 28, 2021 07:00 AM

The stage is empty.

Typically, people would be gathering this month to hear a group of local individuals share stories from their lives at “The State of the Story: Learning to Live” event. For the past five years, the month of February has been themed around love, loss, and transformation. Instead, past storytellers were asked to share some personal reflections about their experiences developing and telling their stories as part of this month’s Centre Daily Times article.

They answered this question: “How did telling your story impact you?”

What follows are excerpts in their own words:

“On the surface, my story was about my brother almost dying in a car accident. But in trying to tell the story, I learned that the chronological bullet points of what actually happened were not very compelling. The ringleaders helped me to dig underneath the ‘what happened’ and tell the story of transformation within me: how my brother’s car accident changed me forever. It was a process of finding MY voice, being loyal to my own experience, even when that means sharing the most vulnerable parts — when people hurt me, or when I acted in ways I am not proud of today. Crafting my story in a group of other people was a deeply healing experience. I had not yet voiced — even to myself — what became clear to me or how I changed.”

“It became a safe place to express your feelings into a beautiful story. The refinement that was taught in that time frame was incredible to me.”

“I had been reflecting on a dream I had after the sudden death of our son in 2012. The group helped me to articulate the message I had received from it. The opportunity to speak out loud was empowering for all of us.”

“It was from telling my story and reliving this experience that I found the courage to become a Certified Life Coach and now have my own practice. Once I shared this story, it needed to be let out of the cage to fly. There is so much more to the story, and so I will keep telling. It is truly a gift that I never knew would bless me so.”

“Telling my story was a process of excavation and healing that I didn’t anticipate.”

“Although I have shared my story of surviving both my mother’s suicide and my own many times, this experience was different than before. Being part of State of the Story gave me a group of individuals to connect, practice and bond with. It was a safe little community that allowed me to share my story focusing on my own perspective and allowed me to express my emotions. Initially, it was very hard to delve into my own feelings but as time went on, I realized how supportive a storytelling community could be when it was developed with that intention.”

“Telling my story about ‘watch time’ was a fun experience. The audience responded well to the story and I received lots of kudos for sharing it. It made me realize that I’m a good writer and storyteller.”

“Telling my story allowed me to expose the lies that I have been telling myself and that is that I have it all together. Telling my story allowed me to focus on what I want and need. Telling my story allowed me to see the changes that I needed to make. Telling my story has allowed me to start taking care of me. I am important too.”

“I was forced to learn what lay beneath my story. This deeper truth led to an understanding that I am not alone in my grief. This understanding made me a better writer. It also led me to lifelong travel companions I now call friends.”

“Telling my story was the first time I felt I could begin to articulate the sudden loss of my husband a year earlier. I found my voice and the silence of my grief became less oppressive. The story I told in 2017 is now part of a memoir I’m writing about the surprising ways that love transcends death.”

“The most impactful part was the other storytellers I met in the group. I am still connected to many of them. By owning my story, I began the process of releasing and trusting the love through all of my losses.”

The stage may be empty, but the stories live on.

Contributors are “Learning to Live” storytellers from 2016-2020. This column is coordinated by, whose mission is to create educational and conversational opportunities for meaningful intergenerational exchanges on loss, grief, growth and transformation.

This was first printed in the Centre Daily Times on February 28, 2021.