Take time to record your his­tory for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions

Record Observer - - Senior Satellite - By RYAN HELFEN­BEIN

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.

RYAN HELFEN­BEIN

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