Many of us have felt with the passing of a loved one the regret that we never asked all the questions about their life that we intended to. Unfortunately, now those questions will never be answered. A part of our loved one is lost forever. Maybe we didn’t realize until it was too late, put it off thinking there would be other opportunities, or couldn’t bear to think about losing them.
That’s why it is always the time to preserve family memories. The memories we have are our most invaluable possessions that cannot be bought or replaced. Each of us is the accumulation of connected memories and if we don’t store memories then a part of us will be lost forever. Preserve the story of your life, tell your story, or help a loved one tell their story. If you are not certain what types of questions to ask your loved ones see our list of the most important
to get you started.
Everyone has an amazing story to tell that belongs to no one else. Their memories matter and this article will go through numerous reasons why it is important to preserve and tell the story of your life.
Recording a Loved One’s Life Story Improves Their Well-Being
It is an incredibly heartwarming experience for all involved to better understand the lives of your parents or other loved ones. Take a walk down memory lane
with them. There is no better way to spend extra time with them than working together on the project of collecting, organizing, and recording their unique life story. In addition, there are numerous health benefits by reducing feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Loneliness is a serious health risk
that affects people of all ages, especially older adults because they are more likely to have lost family and friends, be living alone, suffer from hearing loss, and debilitating diseases. Researchers have found that more than one-third of people older than 45 feel lonely, and even more serious nearly one-fourth of those over 65 are considered socially isolated. A person’s health can be significantly negatively impacted by being lonely or socially isolated. Studies have found
- Living in social isolation increases the risk of premature death comparable to other major risk factors including, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity.
- Social isolation can also have severe mental consequences with an approximately 50% elevated risk of dementia.
- A 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke were associated with social isolation and loneliness.
- Loneliness is an established factor linked to anxiety, depression, and suicide.
- Among patients is heart failure, loneliness increased the risk of death by nearly 4 times, hospitalization by 68%, and emergency room visits by 57%.
With all these great positive benefits, there is no reason to delay in reaching out to start the process of discussing and documenting your loved one’s life story.
Positive Psychological Benefits
Besides the benefits to your loved ones, there are benefits to you for learning more about your loved one’s lives. Often our conversations with our parents are focused on the here and now, such as, how are you doing, how are they doing, and what is going on this week. These conversations rarely venture into deeper topics about their experiences and memories.
Diving into these deeper discussions can be an enlightening experience for all involved. Even better than just talking is to document the specifics of those important and defining moments from their past. You will learn things that you never knew about someone that you think you know so well. The result will be a better understanding and a stronger bond with your loved one.
If you don’t ask, then you will never learn from them. There are lessons to be learned and insights to be gained from exploring their life story. It is easy to become accustomed to our routines, as the months and years fly by, and miss the opportunities to speak with our parents about real, important things. Sadly, many of us will let their wisdom die with them. Stop wasting time and learn about the key decisions they made, the experiences that shaped them, and the important lessons they have learned.
We all carry around our own memories exclusively from our own point of view. Discussing our childhood memories with our parents can be very revealing. Memories can take on altered meaning when put into better context by the addition of a parent’s perspective. Human memory is notoriously unreliable where the discussion of shared memories can help to fill in gaps and correct flawed memories.
Furthermore, these intimate discussions about a loved one’s personal experiences and history provides amble opportunity to verbalize both gratitude and forgiveness. Research findings have consistently established that gratitude and forgiveness are positively associated with quality of life, life satisfaction, trust, hope, and optimism. Some psychologists content that what stands between many clients and a happy life is the exclusive process of forgiveness. Studies have also demonstrated physical benefits to forgiveness and gratitude, specifically, reduced stress and improved sleep.
There is no better time than now to start realizing these incredible benefits.
Immeasurable Importance for Future Generations
At no other point in history has it been possible to have such intimacy with future generations. In the past, information was passed along to future generations as oral histories or written accounts. Today, technology makes preserving a legacy and memories easier than ever. Smartphones and computers enable anyone to record videos, take photos, and write at anytime from anywhere. Technology ensures that this digital information will never be lost, damaged, or destroyed as was a risk in the past with physical documents. Many older adults create wills and perform estate planning to pass down money and material possessions, however passing down their wisdom and life story is much more valuable to future generations.
Sharing family values and a life stories enable your descendants to gain a new and deeper understanding of their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on. This helps people see their lives more clearly and derive pride from their family history including the struggles, failures, and successes. Each of our unique lives can serve to inspire, educate, comfort, and entertain future generations. The story of your life is an invaluable gift for those yet to be born. It will give them a sense of their roots and that belong to something greater than just themselves. Their identity depends on the choices made by their ancestors.
Curiosity about the past is an innate part of human nature. At some point we wonder where we came from to become who we are today. Regrettably, too often the past is lost forever when the older generations are gone. Preserving family memories are valuable to future generations to teach them about the family history, culture, values, and traditions. You may take for granted the family traditions that helped to share your and your children’s childhoods. If the coming generations do not learn the traditions will disappear forever, a true loss. Safeguarding these traditions will keep them alive for generations to come.
Those tastes you savored as a kid can easily be lost to time if those family recipes are not passed along. Instead of writing them down, record a video that will show exactly how to cook those distinctive dishes. Explain the significance of family heirlooms so that they will be appreciated and treasured forever. Share aspects of your daily life so your descendants can see firsthand how you lived in a different time and imagine what it must have been like.
Preserving a loved one’s memories and stories for future generations is a gift that will be appreciated long after they are gone. Life stories are priceless and irreplaceable so start recording them now. After reading this you probably wish that you began a long time ago.