The Talk of a Lifetime

October 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

The world is short a great man.  Last week I celebrated the life of my grandfather with family.  As I am working through my own grief, including a fresh look at my own mortality, I am thinking about the importance of family in tethering each of us to meaningful stuff.

What tethers you?  What makes you you?  What motivates you?  What are you most satisfied with?  When have you been happiest?  What has been your greatest challenge?

And do you ever talk about this really important stuff with anyone?

The Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) has a program called Have the Talk of a Lifetime.  This program encourages families to have meaningful conversations near the end of life.  I'm going to invite my own family to start now because there is no reason to wait.

This is from the Have the Talk of a Lifetime website:

Deep down, most of us want to know that we, in some way, made a difference in this world — that we mattered to someone, and that after we die, we will be fondly remembered by those who knew and cared for us.

When grieving a death, memorialization — taking time to honor the life of a loved one in a meaningful way — and remembering the difference a loved one made in our lives can be an important step in the journey toward healing.

The website offers a free workbook to download to begin the process.  In the workbook, one of the suggestions for starting the conversation is to go through old photos together.  Photographs are stories and having an expert narrator next to you while you enjoy them is all the better.

When did you know you had finally grown up?

What were your parents like when you were growing up?

Who has been the most important or influential person in your life?

What traditions do you hope your children and grandchildren will carry on?

How do you want to be remembered?

I never had a conversation like this with my grandfather.  I'm certain I would have heard amazing stories and probably would have laughed until my sides hurt for most of them.  This is an opportunity to know my family and understand my history I don't want to lose again, and so I'm going to begin asking one of these questions in each letter I write to my grandmother (yes, I write her letters, and receiving one in her handwriting is one of the best moments of each month).

October is Family Portrait Month and I can't think of a better way to create memories that cry out to be photographed than to ask each other some of these questions.  In the responses to these questions we see the details of the memory in the storyteller's face.  Those flickers of a range of emotions are incredibly beautiful and touching.

When will you have the talk of a lifetime, and with whom?

 


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