The Healing Power of Sharing Our Stories

Article by Mary Sullivan, Edited by Dee DeWitt


When I was involved withProject Compassion, an end-of-life care nonprofit, I learned the healing power of sharing our stories.


Early in its inception, Project Compassion sponsored a “Talking Circle,” structured after the Native American tradition.  A small group met once a week focusing on our personal experiences with serious illness, death, and grief.


Many of the participants had never met before.Bound by our common vulnerability, sacred trust soon developed.  Listening to the stories of others, I was able to move beyond my private pain, and my heart broke open to “the pain” present in all of our lives.


Watching others bravely face their sadness, I was encouraged to deal with my own grief over the death of my dear friend, Rhonda.  When one woman explained how losing her husband had reminded her of the preciousness of her own life, I was inspired to begin to “live again.”


Such is the power of sharing our stories.  Telling our stories, and listening to others, opens us to our human connection–we all love, we all experience holy laughter, holy tears, and ultimately, we all will die. 


These truths hold for women and men, young and old, conservatives and liberals, Muslims and Christians, Caucasians and Hispanics.


Imagine the healing that could come in our politics and our pews if we simply listened devoutly to the story of those we have labeled as “Other.”


When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.   

- Mark 6:34 (NIV)


Mary Bea Sullivan is the author of Dancing Naked Under the Moon – Uncovering the Wisdom Within, a compelling story about her pilgrimage toward wholeness.  She facilitates spiritual retreats and workshops for women’s groups and faith communities.  Mary Bea lives with her husband, Malcolm Marler, and their yellow (white really) lab, Daisy, on Smith Lake in Alabama. For more information about Mary Bea Sullivan and her work, please visit


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Posted on 7 July, 2010 in Balance, Helping Others
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