Taking the ‘Time to Talk’ and sharing memories

How well do we really know the people who matter the most to us?

Whether it’s our parents, grandparents, partners or closest friend, chances are we may not really know what significant people, places and events shaped their lives.

Sitting down with them to talk about their lives can be very rich and satisfying. Learning about people, places, values and lessons they have learned can help bring us closer to people that we really care about.

It’s amazing how many times following a funeral service or even during the arrangement we hear people say ‘I never knew that about him or her’.

However that’s very often just the scratch on the surface. We may know what happened on the day they graduated, but may never have asked how they were feeling on the day?

Finding the right way to start talking with the people we love can be the challenging part but once we start the conversation, we may find it difficult to stop.

Each one of us has a story to tell and there’s always more we can learn about from others.

Tips for Starting or Continuing a Conversation:

  • Don’t stress over how or when to have the talk. This can happen at any time or place that feels comfortable.
  • Talk to anyone that matters to you; a parent, grandparent, spouse, aunt, uncle or close friend.
  • Use of open-ended questions as these requires more than one-word answers and ask follow-up questions to gain more details.
  • Sometimes during one of these conversations, people may share some information that they have never shared before. It is always a good idea to listen carefully and not pass any judgement.
  • Of ten we may be having a conversation and it leads into a topic that they are not too comfortable about discussing. This is a good time to just move on without questioning the reasons why.
  • Photographs and possessions can of ten bring back lots of memories and easy get the conversations flowing

A great way to open up the conversation is by letting the person know that you are interested in getting to know more about them and ask if you can direct some questions to them. There are some great books that can assist you. At Simplicity we have books called ‘Memories to Share’ which capture lots of information and are a marvellous tool to help the conversation along. I always envisage the children or grandchildren sitting down with grandparents and asking them if they can interview them. I think this would be such a special time to share but it is also creating a beautiful keepsake for them to treasure.

Some of the questions would be:

  • How did your family celebrate Christmas?
  • Can you remember seeing television for the first time, and what did you see?
  • Did you have a favourite teacher?
  • Did you go to Sunday School?
  • What was the longest trip you took in your first car?
  • What were the fashions and hairstyles like?
  • What was your first boss like?
  • Describe your wedding

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy and a tragedy.” – Mark Twain, Author & Humourist

The things that we learn as the conversation unfolds can be precious beyond measure. As much as we gain from the experience, they can also be an opportunity to share our own treasured memories too.

Another idea would be to make an audio or video recording of the conversation or interview and that we can also preserve their voice.

The stories that are shared during a conversation gives us a deeper appreciation of a person, their life story and also we get a glimpse of the legacy that will one day be left behind.

Honouring the Lives of Those That Matter

Having had a conversation can give us a greater appreciation of family history and also be helpful in the future when we have to make important decisions about how to remember an honour our loved ones when they die. The reflections that have been shared together can help us memorialise them in a way that honours their life perfectly. Memorialisation can be a meaningful experience that reflects the personal values, interest and experiences that we learnt of and talked about.

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