Who Are We, But for the Stories We Tell: Family Stories and Healing

Storytelling is a part of life that builds a connection between family members ‘We refer to storytelling or storying as the natural process that families engage in to relate experiences to one another’ (Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N 2010: 243) This highlights the importance of questioning my family on there experience. Family’s may remember singular memories differently; ‘One of the goals of family narrative is that family members will realize that there may be multiple realities, multiple truths, about what happened. Even when all members of a family are present during the traumatic event, their individual experiences will be idiosyncratic’ (Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N 2010: 247) ‘For individual family members, exposure to trauma can lead to impairment in a number of domains that, in turn, can affect their ability to participate effectively in family storytelling’ (Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N 2010: 245); Especially during traumatic incidents people may choose to forget particular elements to help deal with the pain. In my circumstance I remember the stories my mum tells however, they appear very different to what my Nan remembers. This may be the reasoning as they could have very different emotions towards Eustace. It may also extend from my mum having less memories from my Nan: ‘with each year of our lives, we add well over half a million minutes to our banks of experience. However, to be human is not simply to keep a record of the details of that sensory experience, but rather it is to organize those experiences into a cohesive story that allows us to integrate selected moments into our sense of who we are. Stories are used to organize, predict, and understand the complexities of our lived experiences’ (Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N 2010: 243) Due to the complexity of my families situation it may adjust each family’s members experience and memory with Eustace. Family stories tends to explore happy memories; ‘Telling family stories comes naturally to most families. It is an ordinary part of shared family meals, family leisure time, and special family events. Through frequent practice, families develop natural abilities in storytelling’ (Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N 2010: 243) The tricky part of this is the fact that family stories tends to be a happy subject, which in this case is not the situation. However, when we do discuss Eustace it tends to be a quick situation stating what needs to be known rather than recollecting memory. Family history affects what happens later in life. ‘Family stories go beyond the lived experience of each individual member’ (Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N 2010: 243) this is a great example of how my mum and nans experience has affected me (and I wasn’t even born when it happened). No one person in my family will have the same recollection of Eustace therefore I will never have a guaranteed truth of what happened. And I will just have to accept that.

 

Kiser, L., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J., & Gold, Steven N. (2010). Who Are We, But for the Stories We Tell: Family Stories and Healing. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 2(3), 243-249.

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