Re-membering reciprocal relationships by Chris Dolman

Re-membering reciprocal relationships by Chris Dolman

and a reflection from Barbara Wingard

Re-membering conversations are one of the key maps of narrative therapy practice. This video, by Chris Dolman, explores some interrelationships between re-membering conversations and the principles of Just Therapy, through stories of work with Aboriginal people in Murray Bridge, a rural town in South Australia.

Following the video, we invite you to read a reflection by Kaurna Elder and narrative therapist and teacher Barbara Wingard: ‘Bringing lost loved ones into our conversations: Talking about loss in honouring ways’.

And then perhaps you may like to join the forum discussion!

A reflection from Barbara Wingard:

Barbara Wingard (2011) Bringing lost loved ones into our conversations: Talking about loss in honouring ways. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work 1:54-56.

Published on January 24, 2013

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Trevor

    Nice to see Just Therapy getting some plaudits and a familar face and voice.

    The sociological understanding of death of Māori is fairly well canvassed, but I will reflect upon this in my own work on re-membering relationships. In my families Gaelige culture there is also a surprisingly similar approach to the Māori, and I may well comment on this also. The tangihanga, or funeral in Māori is designed to be a public witnessing of loss and grief, and that most tangi last 3-5 days goes to show how highly valued there are within Māoridom. The metaphysical understanding of the tūpapaku (corpse) following death is also very interesting and I should elaborate upon this for the benefit of others in the MCW2021 cohort.

    Good stuff Chris!

    Your testimony of death in Aboriginal contexts was heart-warming

  2. Susan Lord

    Thank you Chris,

    I am very moved by your heartfelt acknowledgements through the video and the stories, and your tears. Thank you for providing this beautiful experience!!!

    Thank you Italo.I am very moved by your story of the hugs.

    This week, through the Narrative Grad.Cert. group, I revisited the article ‘Saying Hullo again” Michael White (1988).This brought back memories for me, of Michael White, about the apology he gave for the mental health system, which led to a huge hug he gave me, which I then passed on to David Epston last year. This felt very symbolic as if the hug were directly from Michael to David.

    This is very reminiscent of the hugs you are talking about Italo –

    “how she remember “hugs” as related to an antidote of isolation. She likes to hug people that she feel good with and she honors her mother by doing this… and I keep her hugs in my memory and will bring them to Chile as well…”

    Thanks Italo for this reminder again. I like to think of hugs in this way : that they don’t just hold an immediate need response, but are significant in the meanings that we give to them. –ie. The significance in yours and my memories that hugs can hold a whole lot more- like a transference of the ‘hullo again’-of the people, their presence and their values.

    In my case the significance is that every hug I give carries some of Michael White’s heart.To me this is saying that in the way that I act, I carry the input given to me by others. It is saying that every act of love travels a very long way, in being re-given over and over, also acknowledging those who have given to me. I

    In this way also I totally support Audrey in her saying :

    “I am slowly realising how important it is for people to ‘say hello again’ to loved ones who have died, to re-connect with them, and develop a way of continuing their relationship. It is such a hope-filled way of walking the path of grief and bereavement.”

    In this relationship continuing and developing further, so is the meaning and connection that both stand for, developing further.

    ..and Jennifer thank you also for reminding me to mention just how a remembering conversation just last Friday, in the context of saying hullo again brought Michael White back into the space… into our conversation! He was as real as if he were there in person. –in all his humorous, enthusiastic and acknowledging ways, the conversation brought tears to my eyes, in remembering the enormous significance Michael has had in my own life !!!

    Jennifer, you said “I was so thrilled when the ‘lost’ person re-entered in such a present way back into our conversations, it was like they were in counselling too!”

    Thanks Chris, Italo and Audrey!

    Kindest regards to you all!!!


  3. Audrey de Witte

    It is such a nice way to engage with others who are on the Narrative Therapy journey through these ‘Friday Afternoons at Dulwich’, even if so many of us tune in at times other than Friday afternoons.

    Thank you Chris and Barbara for sharing your wisdom and knowledge. By the way UnitingCare is a great agency, I say that being a Uniting Church Minister and having a great deal of respect for the work of UnitingCare.

    I am really interested in learning and using re-membering practices in relation to people whose loved ones have died. I have conducted hundreds of funerals over the last 10 years and have found myself coming to an understanding that people should not be encouraged to ‘let people go’. I found myself over the years talking to people about remaining in a relationship with the one who has died, acknowledging that the relationship would be a little different from now on because the person wouldn’t be around in a physical presence anymore, but also pointing out that in so many other ways the deceased would always be a part of who they were.

    Thanks to David Denborough, I have just finished reading ‘Re-membering Lives: Conversations with the Dying and the Bereaved’ by Lorraine Hedtke and John Winslade. I had no idea that there were others out there who were thinking the same as I had begun to think about keeping people connected to us when they have died.

    This has helped me with a man I am working with at the moment whose only daughter suicided over 3 months ago. We have begun exploring the kind of relationship he can now build with his daughter.

    I found it particularly helpful to hear Chris talk about exploring how distress can become a testimony – what does ones distress give testimony to about the one who has died? I feel that this is something that I will be using in the future.

    I also found it helpful again to hear about paying attention to the ordinary practices in life, and exploring these further, as a way of ‘thickening’ the story.

    I was invited to give an address last week at a Palliative Care community event. For the first time I spoke of the work of Michael White, Lorraine Hedtke, and John Winslade. I also spoke about Michael White’s article ‘Saying Hullo Again’ and introduced the audience to the concept of ‘re-membering’. I had a man approach me later wanting to know more about what I had spoken about, as he found it really helpful and he had never heard anything like this. His wife had died some 13 months ago and he told me that he spoke to her every day.

    I am slowly realising how important it is for people to ‘say hello again’ to loved ones who have died, to re-connect with them, and develop a way of continuing their relationship. It is such a hope-filled way of walking the path of grief and bereavement.



  4. Ítalo Latorre Gentoso

    Hi Chris and others,

    Thank you very much for your presentation, I really enjoy reading your paper, then filming you and then editing and then watching the presentation again! smile

    I also enjoy reading Barb reflection.

    All of this and my experience here in Adelaide moves me into reflections around Australian and Chilean Aboriginal people, power, knowledge, colonization, and so on.

    In my year life here in Adelaide I have meet incredible important people, people that have tough me about all the injustice made by this country to Aboriginal people, as well as in Chile and many parts of the world (currently happening).

    One of my best friends here actually is from Aboriginal culture. He gave me the honor and call me brother. This is one of the most moving experiences that I have lived here, to be acknowledge in these way means for me that we have developed a respectful relationship, and much more than that.

    I am thinking on many things I have lived here and I don’t exactly know how to organize this comment, because I am leaving soon and I will miss so much these important people, my family here.

    The re-membering idea helps me to put my own sadness of leaving Adelaide in a private and intimate day a day gathering of memories, words, laughing, crying, singing! and strong conversations that are know part of who I am, the preferred Ítalo. I leave this country in two and a half months, but I will keep with me so many lived experiences and many people as part of my life, shaping my actions, shaping my understandings of life.

    I have had conversations as well with people who have lost loved ones. I resonate with Barbs words about silence and the different silences. With a young woman we talked about her mom who passed away more than one year. She told me that she never have talked before in this ways about this experience and that psychologist just worked informed by notions of “moving on”, “achieving forget”… in the conversations I learned a lot of things about how the mother gave to her lots of love and company and how she remember “hugs” as related to an antidote of isolation. She likes to hug people that she feel good with and she honors her mother by doing this… and I keep her hugs in my memory and will bring them to Chile as well… I also learned that some times the silence we experiment in our conversations were her own decisions to not talk in that specific moment about specific questions… this is quite different to not talking because you are ‘not allowed to’ or ‘there is no context to speak of it in respectful ways’.

    About injustice and colonization. When Chris talks about his feeling of sadness, I thought I have the same feeling when I see people isolated in life because of injustice, colonization or domination. It is like an ancestral sadness and I don’t know why I feel it that way. Is for me a sadness related with the knowledge that I have of injustice and isolation in my own life and by witnessing isolation and marginalization in many other lives, and being aware of the effects of these in peoples lives… re-membering for me is and understanding, an ethics, a challenge of the idea we are islands in life.

    I studied psychology and I regret from all kinds of psychological understandings, individualistic and naturalistic understandings of identity, supported by economies and capitalism and certain understandings of life associate with structuralist ways of being. I witness how the very majority of psychological practices promote isolation and marginalization of people’s lives and identities.

    … I am talking about many different things here and maybe is time to stop. But before that just wanted to acknowledge Chris work. We got to know each other a little bit here in Adelaide and I know of his respectful and strong ways of responding to peoples lives…

    Hope to make some sense and looking forward to hear other thoughts here smile

    Thanks Chris,

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