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Recording Your Life Story
Celebrant and regular blogger Sonia Collins shares the importance of recording your life story while you still can....... “Why would I want to tell my life story? I’m not rich or famous, no one is interested in my life”...... This is often the first response from people at workshops on recording life stories. Before I start to give them ideas why they might want to record their life stories I always ask one question – “Who in this world knows the most about your life?”
Next I get them thinking. Let’s start with funerals. Isn’t one of the best things about going to a funeral that you get to hear things about a person’s life that you had no idea about? Think about that lovely quiet man with the bad hips and the wife in in a nursing home who you met at bowls and had coffee with every week until he suddenly died. At his funeral you hear about his adventures during his career as an engineer, building bridges in every corner of the world. You get a completely new perspective on him.
OK, so now picture this scene. You have just died and I am sitting in your house with your loving son and two daughters who have just flown in to town. I'm preparing to be the celebrant for your funeral. They want me to create a lovely eulogy so I start to get some details. But what do they really know? Their memories are of you as their Mum and probably start from when they were 5 or 6. Important memories yes. But a limited perspective.
I start by probing you about you as a person. What about your childhood and your family of origin? What about your youth? What about the travel and career you enjoyed before you married their Dad. How and where did their parents meet? What about the work that you did when your family was growing? Sadly that detail is missing. Your husband died a few years ago, your only sister is in a nursing home with dementia, and your children don’t know much about your younger days or know any of your older friends to ask, or even those childhood friends that you keep in touch with over facebook and skype.
On a less morbid note, think about that baby grandson of yours. In another few years he will be doing school projects about things that were different in “the olden days” – yes that means when you were young!!! How will he know that there was a world without Netflix – or even TV? Will he believe that people walked to the phone box on the corner with coins in their hands instead of using their mobile phone for everything? You may not be around, or have good enough memory to tell him these things but imagine what a gift you could give if you wrote your memories down and added photos and personal mementos to create a treasure chest for future generations.
Oh yes – the next objection is always the same. “I’m not a writer – it would be too hard”. What is hard is getting started. There are many resources to help you and many different ways to record your life story. Often people like to work in small groups in workshops. Others prefer to work one on one with a celebrant who can guide the conversation and create a record for the client.
Why not contact a celebrant from The Celebrants Network to help you start to record your own life story.