My son celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday. Although it was his birthday, I made my social media nod to the occasion about me and suddenly having three offspring in their 30s. But I have my reasons. Many stories weave through the photo I used of baby him being held by his two older sisters, but I mostly remember my grief for the untold story.

The photo was taken after we returned from attending my mom’s mom’s funeral, where I sat in disbelief and despair as two men delivered hollow, generalized eulogies devoid of detail and bereft of the story of my grandmother.

The grief of the untold story about Avis Wilson haunts me, and knowing that people were gathered for the very purpose of remembering her—yet memory was absent in the ceremony—breaks my heart.

One of the first novels I started as a young adult—Heavens to Betsy—springs from that untold story, and I knit the story of that day in many blog posts.

Since my grandmother’s funeral, I proactively ask to speak at funerals and pester survivors to share eulogies at funerals, because these stories of our connection and memory should not go untold. And why wait for a funeral? I wrote pre-eulogies for five friends to share with them their story through my eyes.

Write Your Stories

What are your stories? What would you say about your best friend at their funeral? Why not tell them now?

What is the sweetest thing a family member has done for you? If they are alive, why not send them a card or letter to let them know now? Write it down before they die so they can read it over and over with their hand on their heart.

What about your stories? The ones about yourself, and also the ones about people in your inner circle. Who will tell your story at your memorial? What are the small, beautiful things that you love about your people that don’t necessarily come up in conversation? Why not start your drop-dead box or folder to keep these stories?

Our stories matter, and we needn’t be seasoned wordsmiths to scribble them on a page and share them.

The grief for the untold story haunts the heart. Find your words and write them now, in cards and letters, journals and drop-dead boxes. Why? Because the stories—the writing and the sharing—have healing power.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2024