Telling stories is helpful in times of loss.

When I asked people who lost a loved one what they wish people had said or done, about a third talked about story-telling.

Not us telling our story of loss and how we survived.

The stories of their loved one.

Sometimes people want to be asked about their loved one. Sometimes people want to hear what their loved one was like when they weren’t around (or even before they were around).

You can ask:
“What made him cry?”
“What made her laugh?”
“What was the bravest thing they ever did?”
“What traditions did they hate the most?”

You can say:
“I knew her at work. She was the most helpful person.”
“I was their neighbor. They always talked about how proud they were of you.”
“We hung out together when we were kids. Every time, he was the one who helped / made us laugh / got us in trouble / got us out of trouble.”

You can tell each other:
“Mom would hate it if we sat around crying, right? So let’s argue like we did when we were kids.”

If you know the person was a jerk (or worse), of course, you don’t have to say nice things. I once had family members ready to walk out of a funeral if I said their dad was a great guy (he wasn’t, and I didn’t).

But most people aren’t jerks. And many family members actually want to hear stories and tell stories and have someone listen to their heart.

This weekend may be hard for lots of gatherings. Research suggests that stories might help.

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