“Positive fighter” narratives, social support, and silenced stories

We love to share with you the articles and other grief resources we find useful or inspirational. Here’s what we’ve enjoyed recently…

“Positive fighter” narratives shut down conversations and options

This short article highlights the strong influence that social narratives have on the choice that people feel they do (and don’t) have when they are sick and dying, or grieving. In the article, families and health professionals share how the popular way of talking about people “fighting” cancer may shut down conversations about dying and about people’s changing needs as the illness progresses.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/15/pressure-to-stay-positive-may-be-a-negative-for-cancer-patients-charity

How do we, as helping professionals, talk to our ill patients and their families about illness? How might our language be shutting down or opening up conversations and options for better care?

Leveraging social support to reduce illness

The grief research is uncontroversial in reporting that social support leads to better outcomes after loss. In our Certification in Creative Grief Support, we teach about the importance of a relational perspective to grief support, and we strongly encourage our practitioners to help their clients to create and deepen social connections. This fascinating article discusses the connections between illness and social support. Similarly to the grief research, a pilot study found that people who were ill fared significantly better health-wise when their social support was strengthened. On the other hand, other studies have reported that people who are isolated have significantly poorer health outcomes.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/21/town-cure-illness-community-frome-somerset-isolation

How do you, as a grief support practitioner, play a role in helping your client and their families to overcome isolation and strengthen their social support and sense of belonging?

The silenced stories about dying and the dead

This brave article explores the many different kinds of stories of the dying and the dead that tend to be silenced in the world of cancer and terminal illnesses in general, in favor of stories about miracle cures. The pressure to “be positive” and to avoid talking about death is one of the things contributing to cancer patients’ experiences of isolation.

https://www.statnews.com/2017/10/06/cancer-stories-patients/

How do we as grief support practitioners, help to break the taboo around talking about dying and the dead, so that we can highlight, share, and celebrate the unique and precious stories of those who are facing death or have died?