The healing power of storytelling

by Sonia Sharma – Jun 17, 2022

This weekend marks Father’s Day – a day of celebration for some, but also a painful reminder for others. Grief is a process many of us have gone through. A deeply personal thing in which no two experiences are the same. In particular, the loss of a loved one can leave us longing for their memory, whether through photographs, their favourite food (chocolate, specifically, Cadbury Wispa in my case), through music or an item of clothing. 

A powerful technique of the grieving process is storytelling. This can be written, spoken, works of art or a blog – much like this one. Storytelling is intrinsically human, allowing us to organise our thoughts and emotions into a structured narrative that makes sense to us, navigating us through the many grief stages, as well as allowing us to reflect and connect, not just with others, but with ourselves.  

Healing through sharing stories looks different for everyone. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, “openly sharing one’s story verbally has a cathartic or purging effect that alleviates psychological distress. Similarly, writing about traumatic experiences and illnesses often helps to decrease symptoms.” 

In my case, this couldn’t be truer. Sharing my grief story through writing (I am a journalist after all) has helped me tremendously. The grief cycle has no set path, and certain events and occasions, such as a birthday or anniversary, can stir up emotions all over again. For me that day is Father’s Day.  

I lost mine to cancer nearly three years ago, and the healing power of sharing this story has been immense. It is a coping mechanism, because grief and loss can often make a person feel helpless. For me, channelling this energy into something tangible was a way of navigating the process. I now work with the charity Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness, in addition to advocating for a screening programme. Being able to connect with the charity has enabled me to work through my loss, whilst being in a community that shares the same values. One of the taglines of the charity website is to ‘Keep talking. Share what's on your mind, ask questions, and connect with others who’ve been there.’ 

Suffering with grief or a loss requires patience, from both the individual themselves and those around them. I may need to share my story many more times as I work through my loss but as William Shakespeare said, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” 

If you would like to get involved in the Prostate Cancer summer appeal, you can do so here.

Published Jun 17, 2022

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