How Well Do You Know Your Family History?

Photographs and a camera
Every family is rich with stories passed from generation to generation. While some are ingrained in our memories, other important tales may have slipped through the cracks between the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, how well do you know your family history? Get to know your loved ones a little bit better by having the Talk of a Lifetime. Not only will these conversations strengthen the bond between families in the present, but they ensure that these stories are remembered and shared by future generations, making it easier to celebrate the lives of our loved ones when they are no longer with us.

Why Should We Share Family History?

You may be surprised to learn just how many benefits are involved in sharing the family history. Experiencing the stories of happiness, adversity, and triumph through the words of a loved one is a privilege in its own right. But, these tales may also hold great importance for practical reasons as well. When having the Talk of a Lifetime, you can explore topics such as medical history in a more meaningful way. You can also learn more about what is most important to your loved ones, and how they want to be remembered when they die.

Additionally, families can strengthen their connections to one another by having the Talk of a Lifetime. In fact, a study by Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush from Emory University found that children benefitted tremendously from learning their family history. Kids reported higher self-esteem and a better sense of independence.

How Do I Get Started?

Having the Talk of a Lifetime may seem like a daunting task, but you’ll find that it’s actually a lot of fun! If you are having trouble breaking the ice, consider downloading our free workbook or ordering a deck of Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards. These simple tools can lead to big breakthroughs in family communication. Use the workbook to guide your conversation, and write down important or interesting facts. Flip through the 50 different cards to inspire conversations about important events, memorable places, life lessons, and so much more.

Learn More About the Talk of a Lifetime

So, just how well do you know your family history? You’ll soon know more than ever when you engage with your loved ones. Find out more about the Talk of a Lifetime, and start a conversation that brings everyone closer together.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime and Essential Life Lessons

Essential Life Lessons

Don’t you wish you’d known then what you know now? Perspective comes with life experiences, and we usually wish we’d learned a lot more of life lessons when we were younger, especially the tough ones.

When we Have the Talk of a Lifetime, that conversation when we share the really important things with someone we love, it’s amazing the things we’re able to realize with new clarity. The essential life lessons learned over the course of a lifetime are not just interesting, they’re also meaningful to our loved ones. Think about how valuable that information will be to them later, when all they have are memories.

Life’s Big Truths

Life’s big lessons aren’t really that complicated. Our life experiences help shape us into who we are. We all have a unique life story and many times these stories can share valuable perspective, especially when discussed through Have the Talk of a Lifetime. We discovered perspective from this list of truisms, and maybe you and your loved ones will, too:

Attitude

  • Don’t let your age define you – It’s just a number, right? How many times have you met someone and been shocked when you learn how old they are?
  • Face fear – Fear and worry can actually paralyze us. It’s important to remember that fear is in our mind, and a lot of what we’re afraid of never actually happens or isn’t as bad as we pictured. What are you afraid of? Have you passed that fear on to your children? Did your parents pass it on to you?
  • Embrace failure – If you’re a certain age, you already know this is true: we hate the frustration and disappointment of failure, but that’s when we learn the most, and those lessons bring you that much closer to success. What failure in your life taught you the biggest lesson?
  • Be kind – Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a huge impact on someone else. What act of kindness made the biggest impression on you in your life?

Relationships

  • Relationships first – Ultimately, our relationships with our family and friends are among the only things that matter. Make time to talk to them. Nurture and protect these relationships every single day. Who haven’t you talked to in a while?
  • Manage your anger – Anger is part of life, but we all need to learn how to deal with it in a healthy way. Figure out which strategies work best for you – communication, exercise, cooling off, keeping a journal – whatever it takes, commit to it. Share your thoughts with those closest to you. Happy memories are not the only memories you should share.
  • Grudges only hurt you – The negative energy of holding a grudge against someone doesn’t hurt that person, it only hurts you. Letting go and freeing yourself of a grudge is life-changing. Talking to your loved ones about these situations, and how you moved past them can be a wonderful teaching moment.

Things vs. Experiences

  • Move beyond the material world – We spend so much money accumulating stuff, and we don’t realize how unimportant it all is until we’re packing to move. The less you have, the more you can focus on the things that really matter. As you begin the process of letting go of some of the clutter, invite your loved ones to help you. Take the time to relive and share the memories associated with the items as you pack them up.
  • Experience life – Traveling and trying new things are incredibly satisfying, especially compared to material stuff. Seize every opportunity you can, and invite your family and friends to join you! Keep a journal as you go. It will help you share the memories when you get home.
  • Fun times – You should do something fun and laugh as much as you can, every day! Even when we have to be serious, a little comic relief goes a long way. Sharing your funniest memories is a great way to get the Talk of a Lifetime started. Who doesn’t like to hear hilarious memories from their loved ones?

Life is Happening With Every Moment

The here and now is life, but the past is important, too. If you don’t share it, it’s lost. Do yourself a favor – make Having the Talk of a Lifetime a priority. And take these life lessons to heart as you do, since every day counts! Contact us to learn more.

Your #1 New Year’s Resolution: Have the Talk of a Lifetime

New Years Resolution

Making a list of New Year’s resolutions may seem passé, but admit it, having a fresh outlook for the brand new year can be exciting. If you think of them as goals, resolutions can give you a feeling of promise for the future. This year, why don’t you think beyond the standard list like losing weight, quitting smoking, or staying off social media, and do something totally different?

A New Resolution

Resolve to make 2017 the year you get closer to your family and friends, and let them know about some of the things that have been important in your life. We’re talking about Have the Talk of a Lifetime, an organized and interactive way to share your stories and let those around you know what’s most important to you. Not only do these conversations create a special bond, but they give your loved ones a foundation for memorializing and celebrating your life after you’re gone. No detail is too small – names, photos, favorite songs – all of these things enrich your stories and give them impact. Think about how helpful that critical information will be during the grieving process, and think about the smiles those memories will bring.

Getting Started

Like most resolutions, the hardest part is often taking the plunge to get started. Know this: people like to listen, and they like to share their stories, too. Once you start opening up, you’re going to find that the conversation just flows. It doesn’t have to be formal or awkward. You can simply begin by saying that you’ve been reminiscing and want to share some stories. Download a free workbook to get you started, or get yourself a deck of Conversation Cards to help discover new things about your loved ones. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these conversations became a habit and drew you closer to the people you care most about?

The Talk of a Lifetime

This year, make having the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones your #1 New Year’s resolution. Sharing your stories with the people who matter most means they will have that information when the time comes to celebrate your life later, and more importantly, it will bring you closer together today. Learn more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime and how to get started today.

Why Sharing Your Story is Important

Writing In A Journal

Day-to-day life seems to be moving more and more quickly these days. Between the onslaught of information we get from the Internet and the pace of communication with our family, friends, and colleagues, it’s easy to forget that we are writing a story with our individual lives. It’s important to occasionally slow down and make the time to Have the Talk of a Lifetime, and share the narrative of your life. You’ll be glad you did. There are photos, memories, and events that we’ll want to remember forever and share with our family. This kind of storytelling creates a thread that can be passed on to your family for generations to come.

How to Write Your Story

We often have the best intentions when it comes to keeping a journal. We get started when we take an exciting vacation or start a new school year, but then it falls by the wayside. Here’s how to create your story:

Do What You’re Already Doing – Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email, you’re already documenting important things like birthdays, vacations, and other special moments. Did you know Facebook lets you post things only you can see? This is an easy way to keep your story current. You can save important emails into folders or print them out and put them into binders. And with your photos, put them in folders by date, event, and with file names that let you locate them quickly when you’re ready to sit down with your loved ones to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Most importantly, be sure to back everything up to an external hard drive or the cloud. Want a physical documentation of your story? Download the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Workbook and journal your experiences!

Memory by Memory – As time passes, it’s more difficult to write about when you were younger. Old diaries and newspaper clippings can help you think about meaningful memories to jot down. You can do this in email, or maybe you’d rather use a handwritten journal. You can even think about starting a blog that chronicles your memories! Don’t worry about making it look perfect or even keeping things in exact chronological order. The idea is to let the stories of your lifetime flow however they can so you can share them with your loved ones when you sit down to Have the Talk.

How to Tell Your Story

Your story is always being written. Now it’s time to share it by having the Talk of a Lifetime with someone you care about. Expressing your story is a beautiful way to let people know about things that have meant so much to you. Contact us today to learn more.

Ten Reasons to Trace Your Genealogy

Box filled with photographs
Genealogy, or the study of family ancestries and histories, is a fascinating process. Whether you’re using an online resource for research, or a family historian has recorded and kept information, you can’t help but want to know more about the people in your family’s past once you get started. When tracing your genealogy, it’s always best to start by having a conversation with your immediate family. Having the Talk of a Lifetime can bring valuable information to the surface as you begin your genealogical research.

Why Research Genealogy?

  • Curiosity – Let’s face it. We all want to know if we’re related to anyone famous or accomplished. Genealogy is a great way to find out.
  • Health Information – Tracing medical histories through obituaries and death certificates can be helpful when looking for a genetic link to a health condition.
  • Connecting with Relatives – You are most likely related to more people than you realize, and you just might find a long-lost relative living near you.
  • Stories for Children – Giving your kids a backstory to their identity and where their ancestors are from is an incredible gift. This will help them understand who they are.
  • Grieving Process – If someone you love is terminally ill or has recently passed away, delving deeper into their past and learning more about their life can help you and your loved ones cope with the situation.
  • Lineage Groups and Heritage Societies – There are many societies and groups, like Daughters of the American Revolution, which require proof of a qualifying ancestor for membership.
  • Adoption Situations – Finding birth parents or a child given up for adoption is often accomplished through genealogy research.
  • Family Inheritances – Disputes over land, money, and heirlooms can be resolved through proof of a biological link.
  • Family Traditions and Culture – Your family’s unique history and traditions, such as, recipes, holiday events, and family reunions should be preserved.
  • Family Legacy – Passing your family information on to the next generation keeps the past alive.

What Next?

Connecting with the past can make your everyday life richer and more interesting in so many ways. Throughout your genealogical discovery, you’ll find you will want to have even more discussions with your family and loved ones. This is where the Have the Talk of a Lifetime workbook can come in handy, to record some of the most important memories for generations to come. Contact us today to learn more about how a funeral professional can help to get started having this important discussion.

Simplify Your Holiday Gatherings While Creating Memories and Traditions

Wooden Floor with Holiday Trinkets

In the midst of all the holiday madness that seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, it’s easy to forget that we’re creating family memories and traditions with all the things we do (or don’t do). Our visions of a perfectly set table laden with a picture-perfect delicious holiday dinner can come to a screeching halt with the challenges of massive to-do lists, blended families, and over-commitments. Many times, creating traditions and holiday memories just kind of happen by accident. Having the Talk of a Lifetime is a way to make and preserve memories and traditions a primary focus of your holiday this season.

Stay Sane

So how can you create holiday memories and traditions while staying sane at the same time? It can be done!

  • Focus – Take a few minutes, and decide what your priorities are this holiday season. Have the Talk of a Lifetime and reflect on what matters most to you and your loved ones. Chances are, there are some details that take a lot of your time that just aren’t worth it. What will bring you joy and maximize your time spent with your family and friends? Staying up until midnight making homemade pies the night before your celebration may not make the cut.
  • Open Your Table – Invite a friend or someone you know will be alone for the holiday. That generosity is truly a gift for everyone.
  • Delegate – It’s really not realistic (or fun) for one person to handle the bulk of the preparation and cooking. It’s such a treat to taste everyone’s specialties, and it’s a lot less work for the host.
  • Share Your Stories – Make it your mission to plan something special, whether it’s playing the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Card game at the dinner table or a pre-holiday scavenger hunt. It should involve everyone and most importantly, share people’s stories. These are the perfect moments to hear about older family members’ lives.

Breathe Deep, and Enjoy

It’s funny to realize what people remember from the holidays. Usually, they’re things like the time the dog ate the pumpkin pie off the table or Mom burned the turkey. But, if they take the time to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with older family members, they’ll also know about Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding day and what it was like when they were growing up. Learn more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime by contacting us for more information.

The Importance of Maintaining Family Traditions

A family sitting around a dinner table sharing a meal

In an increasingly fragmented and busy world, family traditions can be a source of strength, joy, and identity for many. Traditions take time and attention, but they are a way to mark important and meaningful times with the ones you love. These traditions are a special gift that can live on with future generations. Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones today to ensure no tradition is lost.

Family Togetherness

Whether it’s a big yearly reunion or a weekly family game night, traditions bring families together. Sharing time with your family during an important event helps strengthen the bond between even the most far-flung cousins. If your family is too spread out to be able to spend time together often, those special times when you’re able to be in each others’ company are even more precious. Making time to see loved ones isn’t always in your daily schedule, but a routine event like monthly dinners out or getting together at Thanksgiving can ensure that you get quality time with the ones you love. Your special traditions will be something that you share even when you’re far apart.

Something To Hold On To

Family traditions can be a source of strength and comfort, especially for children. Eating certain foods on holidays, telling stories and singing songs, or playing traditional games can help teach the children in your family where they come from and keep that knowledge alive. Passing down stories about those who are no longer with us, stories that can be learned and through having the Talk of a Lifetime, can help children develop a sense of identity and confidence. Having a routine tradition to look forward to can also help instill a sense of security in children; life may change quickly around you, but the things you do together as a family will always be something to come back to.

Making Memories

Everyday memories may fade, but the places and people we see routinely, and the things we do together will last. Coming back to the same place, seeing the same people, and doing the same things can help good times stick in your brain. Even after that time has passed, reflecting on those warm and happy memories can help you in times of grief or sadness. Children may not remember everything, but they will remember vacations to the same beloved spot, family holidays, and even bedtime stories.

Start With the Talk of a Lifetime

When you’re surrounded by people you love at a family get-together, it can be easier to “Have the Talk of a Lifetime.” Share what’s important to you with your family, and talk about what you want to remember. Click here for more information about how to “Have the Talk of a Lifetime.“

You’ve Had the Talk of a Lifetime… Now What?

Coffee Cup
Having the “Talk of a Lifetime” helps hold on to generations of family history and events, and it makes people feel that their lives have been meaningful. These conversations don’t have to be awkward; in fact, they’re a wonderful way to find out what’s impacted someone and what unique things are important to them. These answers are the perfect starting point for memorializing someone’s life in the future.

Not Just One Talk

These discussions are not just a one-on-one interview. They should happen naturally when one or more members of a family are together. Children, friends, grandparents – whoever’s there can ask questions and satisfy curiosities. Walks outside, long car rides, and mealtimes are ideal scenarios for having comfortable conversations. If you can, record the audio conversation or make notes on your smartphone or a pad of paper. The Talk of a Lifetime is an ongoing dialogue, not a one-time event.

How it Helps

Have the Talk of a Lifetime can be a gift to everyone. The person answering the questions feels important and loved, and it helps them feel like their lives have made a difference in the world. The information provided creates the basis for a beautiful memorial, which is absolutely vital to everyone’s grieving process. Important decisions need to be made when someone passes away, and knowing what someone wants will make these choices easier and less stressful for your loved ones.

Questions About Planning a Funeral?

After having “The Talk of a Lifetime,” It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed about the idea of planning a funeral, whether you’ve experienced a sudden loss or you have time to plan in advance. You probably have a number of questions. Your local funeral director can be a great help to you because not only do they know all of the laws and requirements of your state, but they are trained to communicate with grieving friends and relatives. They will provide you with all the information you need to make decisions about the service. A clergy person can also be a valuable and comforting resource for you.

The Next Step

Have the Talk of a Lifetime is more than just one heart-to-heart. It really is a series of conversations that bring you closer to a loved one. Imagine a scenario where you feel comfortable creating a memorial service filled with personal touches, thanks to these discussions. When the time comes, you can give your loved one a tribute that helps everyone begin the healing process. Contact us today for more information.

Sharing Your Story is What Matters

Sharing is Caring

Have you ever noticed that some people tell you everything, while others clam up? Whether it’s good news or major adversity, it turns out that there are some major psychological and emotional advantages to sharing your story with others. The process can help make you more resilient and can even improve your physical health, too. It’s just another reason why having the “Talk of a Lifetime” is so important.

Benefits of Sharing

Many people find it easier to write things down, either in a journal or in a personal essay. Or, you might prefer to talk to someone about your situation or speak in a public place. Either way, the act of giving your story away is often cathartic. And, what’s really interesting is just knowing that you might be helping others heal or giving them hope by sharing your story is enough to help many people feel better. Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones and share your story.

Research shows that there are significant benefits to storytelling:

Find your own voice – It can be hard to express yourself in a way that makes sense while also sounding like yourself. Psychologists say that it helps to create a story of your life, with a beginning, middle, and end. Random events and devastating experiences then become part of the journey to where you are going, rather than defining you. By organizing your thoughts and putting them in order, you can feel a sense of control over the events in your story and remember more details.

Remember your values and set goals – The act of sharing your story in some way provides perspective and perhaps a reminder of what’s truly important to you. Maybe you’re getting bogged down in small details and forgetting about taking steps toward your long-range goals and dreams. Telling your story in a big-picture way can help you remember what’s most important to you.

Give others hope – Telling your story can be part of your healing process, and it becomes even more powerful when you realize how much your story can help others. People often feel lost and alone when they are going through a difficult situation. Hearing that someone experienced something similar and was able to grow in some way can provide the hope that someone might desperately need.

Find your hope and peace – Finding your voice, keeping perspective, and giving hope to others will create a sense of resilience for you. It’s much easier to feel at peace once you’ve achieved those things. Remember that sharing your story is part of a process, and this process will build hope and a feeling that everything will be okay in the long run.

Sharing is Caring

Sharing your story can help you grow from your experiences, good and bad, and make you healthier in the process. This is just one of the many reasons why having the “Talk of a Lifetime” with your loved ones is beneficial. For more information on how to get started, contact us today.

Life Lessons of the Dude

The Talk With The Dude

By Donald B. Calhoun

Unfortunately, many folks have a hard time expressing their feelings, especially when it comes to emotional expressions of love. This becomes especially true for people during heightened emotional events such as grief. The great philosophers throughout history have used this topic to spin epic stories of tragedy. I was recently having a conversation with one of my colleagues about the need for understanding, developing, and expressing the importance of emotional language. Our work in the monument business has provided us with a front row seat to hearing children express, “Dad never told me that he loved me.” Who knows maybe it’s a generational thing?

My colleague is a millennial and I am a baby boomer. One day, he expressed shock when he witnessed someone saying: “I love you, Don.” He then turned around only to discover it was one of my best friends, Duane. He expressed how odd and uncomfortable he felt witnessing the exchange, especially between two male friends. Digging deeper, I asked why he felt that way. He simply said that two dudes expressing love was just odd. He told me that if he said that to his best friend he would get punched!

Have the Talk of a Lifetime is intended to be an important tool in making sure that we don’t put off expressing our love to our family and friends until it’s too late. It is indeed tragic to observe individuals who love and care for others, and yet they are not able to even begin to express it.

The truth is, love is an emotion. Love is hard to express and explain. But in its simplest form it is the feeling and the knowledge of connection, the understanding that we matter to someone, and that they matter to us. We have often heard that the highest form of love is unconditional. This means that it is not bound by rules or conditions but a gift to be given freely.

Why is it so hard for so many people to express their deep emotional feelings? If you ponder this in the manor of Aristotle, Socrates, or the Dude from the Big Lebowski, we naturally build protective walls to keep ourselves from getting hurt. They are learned behaviors that are natural, reasonable, and serve us well in daily life. Without these natural barriers to protect us the doctor, nurse, teacher, policeman, firefighter, soldier, or caregiver would not be able to function under very stressful situations. They must put aside their emotions to cope and do their assigned task.

Every teeter totter has a fulcrum. That fulcrum provides the center point or balance. We must learn to balance the ability to express feelings of the heart with a realistic level of protection of our mental state. The cost of building emotional barriers denies our true ability to express love. Herein lies the paradox of love; we can get hurt emotionally when we choose to love but we can’t experience love if we choose not to. There is a wonderful TED talk by Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability that has been viewed over 26 million times and that proves that people want to crack this paradox!

The famous Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb captures the essence of this subject in the tragic lyrics: “Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anybody home?” This would be a true catatonic conundrum of epic proportions. Don’t let your dreams of love and affection head in the wrong direction. Don’t let your fears and anxiety of expressing your feelings of love and affection stop you. Have the Talk with those you care about, so you can live a full life with fewer regrets! The Dude abides.