Therapeutic Storytelling For Adults And Children Dealing With A Cancer Diagnosis In The Family
On Monday, I attended the funeral and wake of the beautiful Bronwyn, a friend and parent from my old school. Bronwyn had been battling cancer for two and a half years, and fought the good fight but sadly, cancer took her life before her time. Bronwyn leaves behind a husband she’s known since her early twenties, two teens, and a six-year-old son. It’s a tragic story of loss for this family, and all her family and friends who love her.
But the day was beautiful. It began with a very traditional Church service filled with all her rainbow-wearing community and tribe. There was poetry, and reminiscing, and story, and singing, and photographic memories, and sharing of her last moments. Two hours of love for this community-minded soul.
Following her final send-off, Bronwyn’s community gathered in her favourite beach front park, Rainbow Bay, to share stories, songs, laughter, tears, and ultimately joy and thanksgiving to this woman who brought so much to the world in her time here. Bronwyn was an advocate for birth, for home-birth, for community, for healthy relationships, for the blessed and for the homeless, and for the less fortunate and at a guess, I’d say there were more than 150 people rocking the park that day.
But after the singing (thank you to Mel and PJ, Vic for her rendition of Mamakin’s “My friend’, Jasmine Darcy, and young Grace and David for Hallelujah), came the highlight and touchstone of my day.
My friend and lifelong compadre Jen McCormack told the story she had written for Bronwyn and her family. A story of love, connection, family, and living with a ‘stranger’ who was neither wanted nor welcome.
I’ve known Jen for 15 years and have been listening to her stories for almost as long, and I’ve seen her story writing and story telling abilities grow exponentially over the years. She is a natural born storyteller who touches hearts and souls in both her personal life and in her professional life as a celebrant, teacher, parenting educator, and arts-therapist-in-training. Storytelling is Jen’s life work. She has found her calling, but never more so than today.
I watched as people of all ages, sizes, and genders were reduced to tears listening to Jen’s tale “The Mother, The Great Mother, and the Stranger”. We were mesmerised, touched, inspired to find our inner strength, and reminded of the importance of family, and facing our fears.
“Life wasn’t still in this home. It was ever growing, and ever changing, just like everyone in it.
It was a home that was filled with the busy life of a real family. They all loved to laugh, and talk, and play.
They had their fights too but they belonged together (and always will).”
If you, or anyone you know, is facing a cancer battle or a cancer diagnosis in their family, this story might touch or move them too. It is, without a doubt, Jen’s finest effort yet. I had goosebumps many times throughout her reading and there are lines in the story, inspired by the gloriousness of Bronwyn’s approach to life both in sickness but more importantly during health, that will stay with me for life. This bit summed Bronwyn up. If I can be as accepting, as loving, as non-judgemental, and as unconditionally loving towards people in the way Bronwyn was, well, that’s about the best evidence of a life well-lived.
“We can only be ourselves”, the mother would say to her friends,
“We can’t be anyone else, and we are all wonderful although we are different”
Bronwyn brought us all together this day, and it was a gift she gave us too. An opportunity to see, embrace and speak with long-lost friends, and catch up with our local creative community of delightful kin.
We’ll miss you, Bronwyn.