Take time to record your history for future generations
Each year I have the opportunity to participate in our local middle school’s Career Day. This year, an eighthgrader asked if my job has an emotional effect on me. I told her that yes, there are situations that become extremely emotional, but then surprised her by telling her just how rewarding my job could be when a family truly embraced the story of their loved one’s life. You see, if an 80-year-old passes away, the funeral industry has had a tendency to focus on the death of that person, where my thoughts are to focus on the countless people who were touched by the journey of this one special person, and the memories that were made during those 80 years. And who better to tell the story of that journey than the person who lived it!
Any funeral director can hand a family a standard photocopied document to fill in the blanks and make a notice for the newspaper, but for years, my family and I have advised members of our communities to write their own Life Histories (i.e. “Obituaries”) well in advance. “Take the time now to record your histor y for future generations” my father would always say. This provides a much more memorable write up than the standard boilerplate that any funeral director would do for you. When you take the time in advance to start this process, you are not only able to create a legacy that can be passed down for future generations, but a story of remembrance that all can share, laugh and yes, even cry with, upon your passing.
“So how do I write one of these Life Histories?” Actually, it is easier than one might imagine. First and foremost, don’t think – just write. Write how you would tell your tale, add personality, uniqueness, funny stories and most importantly adventures in your life that family and friends can emotionally connect to. Start with your childhood, telling the tales of growing up. Where you were raised, what schools you attended and what accomplishments and even hurdles you had in your early childhood. From there, you will want to cover your extended education, military service, marriage and family life. Include what you enjoyed doing with your children as they grew up, favorite trips taken as a family and with your spouse, and where you made your home(s) together. Lastly, include your later years, right up to the present. All along the way, do not shorten any story, memory or life adventure. People enjoy reading things that they can picture. Create the picture of your life and share experiences that associated you to your friends and family.
One tip that always needs to be remembered when writing a Life History is to be sure and include dates and places. People may not be able to connect to your high school, but can connect to the fact that they may have graduated the same year as you. By doing this, people are able to gain interest in your tale and connect the dates, allowing future generations to more clearly understand your family’s story.
This summer while relaxing at the beach or pool with your significant other, go ahead and grab your drink of choice, a note pad and enjoy some time together recording your Life History. Recording your story today will help ensure that your services will be a true reflection and celebration of your Life Well Lived, ultimately allowing your friends and family in the future to share in an emotional connection to your life and not the loss.