No One Wants To Hear My Story

Nancy 4 yrs old

Four-year-old me

No one wants to hear my story anymore.  The story about my mother dying when I was only four years old.  No one wants to admit that I still have pain and grief over losing her because I am sixty-seven years old now, and should be way past the acceptable time for mourning.

For so long I have felt societal rules about grief and the invisible timeline for sadness.  ‘Hurry up,’ it says.  ‘Get over it, so we don’t have to feel uncomfortable around you.’  My pain hurts others and touches them in a place so deep that they want to deny it is even there.  No one says these things of course, but they side-step around me and cleave to the edge of the room or conversation as if I might poison them, or worse.

I’ve gotten very selective about who I share my story with.  Most people are visibly shaken to hear that I grew up without a mother’s touch, but then they really don’t want to know more.  It’s just too much, especially women I know who still have their mothers and who complain a little about having to take them places or call too often.

They are uneasy admitting that they have a different story.  That their mothers were vividly alive, engaging, and understanding.  Some are embarrassed to tell me good things about their mama’s and to some, I want to say, “Be grateful!  Be glad you can still tell her you love her and breathe in her scent.”  But, no one wants to be told, “Be grateful.”  It’s like coaxing a child with, “Tell the nice lady thank you.”  And the child says, “Thank you.” with very little feeling.

“I am grateful,” they say and maybe they are, but it is really to silence me more than anything else, and then the subject changes.  I am never ready to change the subject, but I hear the whisper, “No one wants to hear your story.”

“Am I too much?” I ask myself.  “Am I just supposed to stay quiet and not tell my truth?”

It stifles me and mashes my spirit like a corset that labors my breath.  Sometimes I even become ashamed or worse…silent.  The grief turns in on me and feels sticky and complicated, like an expiration date that tells me it is too late to talk about this, the pain should have run out by now, but it hasn’t.  It has lessened, of course, but it’s there right under the surface….waiting.

Please don’t shy away from those who have a different story.  Pray for enough peace to hold space for those who grieve.  It will bless them and you, beyond measure.   How else do we learn from each other?  How else do we really know another soul?  Don’t be afraid to witness someone else’s pain.  Feel it together, talk about it, breathe through it, and embrace each other.  Hold the ache in a sacred place and dare to learn something new about yourself, dare to hear the story. We all have one to tell.

8 thoughts on “No One Wants To Hear My Story

  1. A very powerful and honest piece pf writing. Maybe people get nervous and quiet around other folks’ grief because they don’t know what to say. They may feel afraid or nervous about death in general. Grief for sure has no expiration date! It hits us at random times for all our lives when we lose someone close to us. Your blog can be a way to tell others your heart-breaking story. Keep writing!

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  2. Thank you for opening up grief and letting us look inside. Thank you for giving us all the permission to grieve, to do something most people are uncomfortable acknowledging exists. Some people view grief as an age–we are it for a year and then we move on.

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  3. Thank you for reading Adrienne. I so agree with you. Grief is like a long roller coaster. We go up and down and around and the truth is that it lasts a lifetime. The more we have loved the deeper our grief. I’m sure you know all of this too well. I’m thinking of you, friend and sending love.

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  4. Nana, I fully understand and commiserate. I clearly remember the reactions we encountered if we told someone that Buck, Grace and Robin died from carbon monoxide poisoning then three years later my Daddy died, then three years later my Mama died then three years later my sister died. I have a clear memory of Buck, Bill and I sitting in the New Orlean’s airport after my sister’s funeral. Buck looked at Bill and me and grinned then said, “Well, we could always start an F-ing funeral consultation service “. Few people want to hear our stories – heaven forbid we mention miscarriage. Thankfully, the Lord sees our pain and enables us to process it. I love you tons 😍

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    1. Thank you, Franie for your words of strength and wisdom. You have a beautiful story that others might find too hard to hear, but it has made you the strong, Christ-filled woman you are today. I am grateful that we will always have each other to share stories, and faith. Love you

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  5. As a man reading your deeply felt story, I almost felt guilty; like your women friends would get it, but it wasn’t intended for your male friends. But I did read it, and it touches me deeply. Not because I had the most wonderful mother who lived to be over 90; but because it made me realize how fortunate I have been. In another era I would promise a big hug if I ever see you, or a fist bump to convey my feelings. In the Covid-19 era, I’ll just promise you that I’ll try to listen deeper and more intently when every friend talks about family and about their lives. Your pain and loss are real and it’s remarkable that you have been able to capture them to share with your close friends. Please be well and hug Scott a little tighter (skinny jeans and all!)

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    1. Dean, thank you for reading. What a beautiful promise to listen more deeply to friends and family who share about their loved ones, dearly departed. I volunteer at Hospice Austin and I am frequently reminded of the grief and sadness others are carrying. Often, all they want is to share a story or talk about the one they lost and we can show great love and compassion by simply listening. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words.

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