“HeartSpun Talk from the Crucible of Experience”©

From the life of Ken Matthies - Author, Poet, Real Life Storyteller

On a recent visit to the beauty of Southeast Alaska I was privileged to encounter an Elder of the Tlingit peoples who live there. He had recently lost his wife after many years of an illness which led eventually to her passing.

I refer to this encounter as a privilege because it validated – above all other reasons for my being there – the true importance of being at this spot on the earth at that moment, willing to listen to and share another person’s story of loss, grief and bereavement with an understanding and non-judgmental heart.

Too often in our busy world and our even busier lives we push aside those in grief – let alone grant them the time to sit down and listen to their stories of heartbreaking pain. Because we find it ‘uncomfortable’ to have to deal with the subject of death, we expect them to just “get over it and get on with your life” as though it had never happened.

Nothing could be further from the truth for someone in grief.

As a person still recovering from my own grief experiences, it’s become my belief that we dishonor both them and their memories of the one they’ve lost when we so callously ignore the reality of the grief from which they suffer by refusing to listen. Someday this reality will be reversed for each of us, and who will listen to our own stories of uncompromising pain of loss when the role is suddenly reversed?

It’s never easy losing your wife of over thirty-five years like it was for this Elder, especially when it was a marriage filled with the strength of love and devotion to each other and to the children they brought into the world together.

It’s much more difficult when that loss has occurred over an extended period of time and feelings of guilt wash over you after they’ve gone, because part of you is relieved they died and are finally past their illness, and part of you feels guilty for having such thoughts in the first place.

Coming to understand that those kinds of feelings of guilt are a natural part of the grieving process isn’t easy – and it’s made even less so when we’re unwilling to give a grieving, hurting person the room in our hearts; or the time to listen to the things they so desperately need to be able to give voice to in order to find their own healing path.

It’s in the listening to, understanding and sharing of these painfully true events of life that we are able to bring a significant measure of healing to another person’s pain as happened in the situation I describe.

I’m grateful I was in that spot on the earth when a grieving Elder needed to talk about his pain and feelings of guilt about his loss. I know it made a difference for him to be able to talk to someone who was willing to hear and understand his feelings and to the path of his individual healing – because he told me it did.

And therein lies the importance of listening – you too will make a profound difference in the life of a grieving person by opening your ears along with your heart of caring to help them take another step towards their healing.

You’d want them to do it for you if you needed it, wouldn’t you?

Author's Bio: 

For almost forty years of his life Ken Matthies has been a writer and chronicler of life expressed in poetic form, following the family tradition laid down by his grandfather before him.

Faced with the dramatically life altering experience of his helicopter pilot daughter’s sudden death in 2002 he has grown to also become a literary author of true events based on his own life. Though grief opened his literary doors it is the Light of Love and Memories supplying the fuel of inspiration to write through them.

As a second-chance dad given the opportunity to verbally share his life stories with his newly rediscovered daughter it was she who told him that she believed him to be a ‘worthy man’ after having heard them, and who encouraged him that they should be shared in written form beyond her own life – not yet knowing as she said it that she was soon to leave him behind. As a bereaved father and writer learning how to live life again in the Light of his own Love and Memories of his daughter, he writes those stories now as a testament to her belief and faith in their value.

His full length book entitled "How to Survive the Death of a Child - A Father's Story of Healing Light" was the first of these stories which he wrote in the Light of those Love and Memories.

He lives in the solitude and grandeur of a tiny southern Yukon village with his Tlingit native wife Skoehoeteen and the successor to their venerable old Tahltan bear dog Clancy Underfoot, who now happily awaits them at the Rainbow Bridge in Doggy Heaven. She’s a new female puppy named Hlinukts Seew which means ‘Sweet Rain’ in the Tlingit language, a wonderful phonetic variation in memory of Clancy’s name who was also called C.U. for short. It’s a good place to tell those stories from.

You can read more of Ken's writings and find his Amazon Kindle book at www.kenmatthies.com.