EndNotes

The stories we need to tell oursevles

An autographed cycling jersey hangs in the offces of Livestrong, Lance Armstrong's cancer-fighting charity, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, in Austin, Texas. Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong on Wednesday. (Jack Plunkett / Fr59553 Ap)
An autographed cycling jersey hangs in the offces of Livestrong, Lance Armstrong's cancer-fighting charity, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, in Austin, Texas. Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong on Wednesday. (Jack Plunkett / Fr59553 Ap)

Yesterday, Lance Armstrong tweeted a photo of himself reclining on his sofa surrounded by his yellow jerseys from The Tour De France. The journalist in me says: What arrogance, what denial. And I will still say this here. But what I've been learning in "chaplain school" these past three months is that people (especially as they are dying) cling tightly to the stories they have told about themselves. They need to write the narrative of their life their way. It may have a lot of mistruth in it. It may have a lot of denial. (Armstrong's photo sure hints at both.)

But people tell their stories, their way. As chaplains, we listen and don't correct. That's what we are taught to do for people. We honor their stories. Armstrong someday (maybe at the end of his life!) might finally come clean about his unclean drugging in his champion days. But if he never does, perhaps a chaplain will listen to his reality.

Different ways of listening, for sure.

(S-R archive photo of Armstrong jersey)




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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.







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