An Ocala storyteller and health professional relates how she uses stories to help people who are struggling.
Being in good health can include achieving mental balance after encountering loss, grief and great challenge. And, sometimes, a good story well told can help someone move forward in a positive way.
Jessica McCune, director of bereavement at Hospice of Marion County, also is a professional storyteller. She is a registered nurse and licensed mental health counselor, who, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in nursing has master’s degrees in counseling education and in storytelling.
“I have led workshops for grief and storytelling; the local HeART Steps program, using story to identify emotions and work for peace and conflict resolution; as well as what I call ‘finding your soul’ stories,” McCune offers. “I have performed at storytelling festivals and serve on the Florida Storytelling Board of the Florida Story Association.”
McCune says she often is asked, “How do stories heal?”
“I suppress a laugh, knowing I could fill half of this magazine with thoughts answering that question,” she offers, adding that she often turns to stories to support those on the journey of grief, noting in particular:
- Stories connect us one to another and the emotional connection offers support. It “feels good.”
- Stories render meaning from chaos and connect us to the larger universe.
- Stories expand imagination and creativity that helps solve problems.
- Stories offer hope and restore the future.
- Stories enable growth and transforms pain.
- Knowing our stories helps us see that we are so much stronger than we ever imagined.
- It is important to remember that healing occurs even in the absence of a cure. Stories heal.
“A story I often tell was given to me by a very brave and loving person,” McCune explains. That story appears below.
The Dragonfly Story
By Walter Dudley Cavert
In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him. Soon, one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface. He rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings.
In vain, he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him, they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number. The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation which we call death is no proof that they cease to exist.
“I hope the author does not mind that I add a few words of my own,” McCune continues. “I usually end the story saying, Just because we cannot see or hear the one we love does not mean they aren’t flying back and forth, back and forth, trying to keep their promise to us.”