People around the world have created memorials to honor those who have departed. While there has been a noticeable evolution of memorials over time, this ritual has persisted for centuries. So, why do we establish memorials in the present day? Some create memorials to grieve their own loss, others create memorials to honor the life of the deceased. No matter the reason, establishing these tributes can be an immensely healing process.
Importance of Memorials
While it’s true that memorials represent a life lost, they also represent the importance of that individual to the living. Memorials highlight the bonds that that tied this person to society, and cement that person’s place in history. Think of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. or Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Though these memorials were created generations ago, they remain relevant even to the present day. Memorials can help share a legacy, however big or small, for decades to come.
Choosing a Memorial
Just as every life is different, every memorial is a little bit different as well. Consider the personality of the person that you want to remember. Did they have a favorite hobby, like fishing or gardening? Did they give to a particular charity or cause? As you go through your favorite memories, consider reaching out to friends and family for extra ideas. You may be surprised by what inspiration you find when you combine minds.
And while you’re investigating the legacy of your loved one, you might want to take the time to think about your own. What motivates you in life? What lessons do you hope to pass onto the next generation? Consider having the Talk of a Lifetime with those close to you, so you can express how you want to be remembered in the future.
Types of MemorialsMemorials come in many forms. Ancient civilizations created grand monuments for the deceased, while modern memorials may be smaller, or even completely virtual. Here are just a few examples of modern memorials:
●Planting a tree or creating a small memorial garden is a wonderful way to honor a nature lover.
●Online memorials can be shared with friends and family all over the world. Add images, videos, and words of remembrance with just a click.
●Public spaces, like universities and parks, often offer tributes for those departed. Speak with the organizers about purchasing an engraved bench, brick, or plaque to celebrate your loved one.
●Visit the Monument Builders of North America website for inspiring ideas for beautiful monuments to memorialize your loved ones.
Have the Talk of a Lifetime Today
How do you want your life to be honored? Have the Talk of a Lifetime today and let your family know how you want to be remembered. Visit the resources page and download free materials such as the Activity Guide and Workbook which will help you begin your conversations!
Don’t Wait to Make a Meaningful GiftThe sooner you make a loved one a creative, meaningful gift, the more time there is to enjoy it. These kinds of gifts spark memories, and memories make it easy to start the Talk of a Lifetime. To find out more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime, Contact Us today.
1. Light a CandleMany cultures around the world use the lighting of candles to pay respects to the departed. The shining light can represent the spirit of those you love, so you can include them in your celebrations long after they are gone. Consider picking up a special candle in a favorite color or scent, or pick up an LED candle as a flameless alternative.
2. Prepare a Special MealMany holidays, like Hanukkah and Christmas, involve a festive feast that’s full of recipes handed down for generations. This is a great chance to dig out those old family recipe cards. Gather the family to make grandma’s prize-winning pie, or take turns preparing your father’s beloved roast recipe. While gathered, encourage your family to reflect on their own lives and the impact of loved ones. We call this “The Talk of a Lifetime.”
3. Volunteer for a CauseThe holidays are a wonderful time to spread good cheer to all, so think about volunteering for a cause that was important to your loved one. You can help out a community food bank or create holiday cards for a local hospital. The goodwill that you receive from volunteering with your family can make any holiday brighter and more meaningful.
4. Create a DisplayIf you and your family are creative, you can create a holiday display about favorite memories of your loved one. Dedicate a small space of a room to photographs, letters, artwork, and other mementos that remind you of our favorite times with family. Tech-savvy thinkers can also make memorial videos or multimedia projects to share during the holidays.
5. Decorate the GravestoneMany families gather at the gravestones of their loved ones over the holidays to pay respects as a group. While you can gather in silence or rehash your favorite stories, some people enjoy the process of decorating the gravesite. Flowers, paper cutouts, painted stones, or even small ornaments can bring festivity to the final resting place.
Have the Talk of a Lifetime TodayHow will you want to be honored? Have the Talk of a Lifetime today and let your family know how you want to be remembered. Visit the resources page and download free materials such as the Activity Guide and Workbook which will help you begin your conversations!
What is the Talk of a Lifetime?Life is full of casual conversations and small talk, but the Talk of a Lifetime provides a unique opportunity to dig deeper. When you have the Talk of a Lifetime with family, you ask open-ended questions that encourage self-reflection. You’ll learn about your family’s wishes and dreams, and what they hope to leave as a legacy. Ask your grandmother about her favorite memories from childhood, or ask your father about the one piece of advice that he’s carried with him for life. These simple questions can reveal a great deal about your loved ones. You can find more information by visiting the Have the Talk of a Lifetime website.
What Activities Will Spur Conversation?We’re glad you asked! Here are our favorite hands-on activities that are suitable for the whole family. Consider adding a few to the schedule for your next holiday celebration!
- A Gratitude Tree is a simple activity that can make a big impact. Gather fallen twigs from the yard with your family, or make your own colorful stems with pipe cleaners. Attach a small piece of construction paper at the top of each branch and instruct each guest to write something that makes them grateful. Arrange all of the contributions in a vase or other container.
- Make a Holiday Time Capsule to keep a record of all your favorite family memories. Get a sealed container and load it up with family recipes, newspaper clippings, photographs, and anything else you’d like. Seal the capsule and tuck it away in a safe spot until you’re ready to relive the past.
- Create a Holiday Memories Tablecloth to brighten up your holiday feast. Pick up a plain white tablecloth or runner, and set out a bin of multicolored pens. Guests can take turns writing down favorite memories from the year and sharing these memories with others.
Have the Talk of a LifetimeActivities are a great way to spark the Talk of a Lifetime. Have the Talk of a Lifetime provides several great tools to help families have their Talk of a Lifetime.
HistoryStoryCorps, a national non-profit organization, created the National Day of Listening to encourage people to share their stories with the world. The event falls on the Friday following Thanksgiving, acting as an alternative to “Black Friday.” Families are encouraged to take an extra day to reflect on what’s important to them, and record those thoughts with those they love. Over time, this creates a personal timeline of family history.
Capturing MemoriesSome people love to share their memories, while others tend to be a little shy. That’s why it’s important to create an open and welcoming environment to communicate freely. There are many ways to spur conversation organically. Here are a few suggestions:
- Browse through a photo album with your loved ones and ask them to describe a few pictures. When was it taken? What was happening at the time?
- Look through the books or artwork at your loved one’s home. Ask about the significance behind their favorite works, and when they picked each piece up.
- Kick back and chit-chat! Get a deck of the Conversation Cards and start your conversation in a unique way!
Recording HistoryAfter generating great discussion, it’s time to get those thoughts on paper! But, there are many ways to preserve memories for the National Day of Listening. Think about which method feels the most personal, so you can create a fitting tribute to your loved one.
- Build a scrapbook with images and captions describing favorite moments.
- Record an oral history with a microphone and tape recorder, computer, or even a smartphone.
- Make a video recording of your interview and share it at a family reunion.
- Create a blog with stories from your entire family, so everyone can access the interviews from all over the world.
- Download the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Workbook and jot down your discussions in the notes section.
Have the Talk of a Lifetime with Your Loved OnesThe National Day of Listening is a fantastic occasion to have important conversations with the ones you love. While you are all gathered after Thanksgiving, take the time to record your Talk of a Lifetime.
Celebrate With Have the Talk of a LifetimeHave the Talk of a Lifetime brings families together to talk about important memories and a loved one’s life story. These details can be important later, when it’s time to memorialize that person. What better way to honor our loved one than sharing their life events and experiences that were the most meaningful to them? These memories will also provide deep comfort in times of grief and healing. Thanksgiving provides an ideal setting for asking questions and sharing information in a way that’s natural, surrounded by family of all ages.
How Do I Initiate the Talk of a Lifetime?People tend to open up more easily about their lives if something sparks a memory, so it might be a good idea to have each member of the family bring a few old photos or mementos to Thanksgiving dinner. These things could be passed around the table, used in a guessing game, or maybe hung on a bulletin board for everyone to see. One person can take notes, so important names and dates can be documented. Even better, make audio or video recordings of stories and conversations. You can also hold a question and answer session, asking everyone, or perhaps the eldest people there, things like:
- What achievement in your life are you most proud of?
- Tell me about what summers were like for you growing up?
- If you could go anywhere you wanted tomorrow, where would it be?
- What advice from your parents or grandparents was important to you?
- You could even have each person at the table write a question!
Hold Onto the MemoriesOnce you’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with some insights from your Talk of a Lifetime, organize them in a way that preserves everything so you can find it again. If someone in your family is tech-savvy, creating a blog or family website to post information, photos, videos, and audio recordings are an easy way to store everything without taking up a lot of space. Handwritten notes and photos albums work, too. This doesn’t have to be a chore! Connecting generations of your family and keeping memories alive is fun, and it brings everyone closer together. It also makes memorializing someone’s life more meaningful and less overwhelming. If you have any questions, please visit www.talkofalifetime.org to find a Have the Talk of a Lifetime expert near you! 73% of people who have used the Have the Talk of a Lifetime materials would recommend a funeral professional associated with the program. These funeral professionals are the best resource when it comes to planning a meaningful memorial service.
Keep the Tone FriendlyNo one is receptive to a frown or somber tone, so make sure you’re relaxed and smiling when you start the Talk of a Lifetime. Make eye contact and respond to the other person to show that you’re listening, with a laugh, a nod, or an empathetic comment. If your overall body language is open – no crossed arms or staring off into space – then the other person will feel important and heard.
Stay PositiveIt’s no fun to have conversations with people who are always complaining. Though some of the memories and discussions you have during the Talk of a Lifetime may be painful, get off to a good start with a joke or a family story that’s going to get a laugh. Even when you get to more serious topics, a positive attitude can go a long way toward understanding and coping with memories and other issues.
Small Talk is GoodMany people get impatient with small talk, but it’s an important step in communication. You may need to fill some awkward silences with comments about the weather or what you had for breakfast, but these are things anyone can relate to. Small talk is a good way to bond and move toward deeper conversations. Plus, small talk is a more natural way of starting a conversation, rather than just abruptly jumping right into a big topic like funerals and cremation.
Questions, QuestionsThe heart of Have the Talk of a Lifetime is engaging your loved one and asking questions about his or her life. You don’t want to come off as aggressive, so let the topics lead you along the path. Questions are a normal part of conversations, and if you’re keeping things positive and the tone friendly, then information will start coming. Comments that affirm and reinforce the information someone is sharing are important, too. “Wow,” “I didn’t know that,” “Tell me more,” are the kinds of things you can say to encourage someone to keep talking.
Keep Your Mouth Closed and Your Ears OpenYou’re really there to listen, so let the other person do all the talking. It’s easy, especially if you’re relating to what someone is telling you, to jump in with your own personal story or anecdote. You don’t want to take over the conversation, so try to focus on the other person and consciously try not to dominate. If the talk stalls, that’s a good time to relate something from your life experiences to get the conversation going again.
Have the Talk of a LifetimeNow you’re ready to have the Talk of a Lifetime! These conversation tips can get you going, and our free workbook can help, too. 60% of people who used the Have the Talk of a Lifetime materials learned something new about a loved one!
What is the Talk of a Lifetime?The Talk of a Lifetime is one of the most important conversations that you can have. These discussions allow you and your loved ones to express what your life has meant and how you’d want to be remembered. While this may sound overwhelming at first glance, the Talk of a Lifetime can be a deeply uplifting and transformative experience that brings people together. Ask your grandparents about their favorite childhood memories or their wedding day. Ask your best friend about the greatest lessons they’ve learned in life. You’re bound to gain a deeper understanding of your loved ones, while learning how they would like to be memorialized in the future.
How do I Have the Talk of a Lifetime?There are no strict guidelines or precise rules when it comes to the having Talk of a Lifetime. The important thing is that everyone is comfortable. Maybe you’d like to start a conversation while looking through an old photo album, or perhaps you’d like to take a day trip to a special location to reminisce on past vacations with the family. Once you are situated, ask a few questions. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- What was your biggest obstacle and your proudest achievement?
- What was the best advice that you ever received?
- What was your favorite vacation and why was it so special?
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
- If you need more help, consider visiting the Have the Talk of a Lifetime site for free resources like activity guides and downloadable workbooks, or you can purchase a deck of Conversation Cards to help get things started.
What events can I attend?November is full of special events to commemorate Have the Talk of a Lifetime Month. Feel free to search for activities on our event website. You and your loved ones will have a blast while attending events such as the following:
- Genealogy 101
- Scrapbooking Lessons
- Remembrance Services
- Family Tree Construction
- Fall Festivities
- And much more!
Cremation OptionsYou may be surprised to learn that cremation services are incredibly adaptable to suit any wishes. A simple cremation is the most basic option. The funeral home takes care of the cremation process, and the remains are given to the family. This allows the family to carry out their own memorial privately, however, many funeral professionals offer additional options like remembrance services and funeral services as a more traditional approach, so friends and family may gather and pay respects in person. You can even opt for a service with a viewing or visitation before the cremation. Speak with your funeral professional to determine what would best suit your needs.
UrnsAfter the cremation has taken place, the remains can be placed in an urn. Urns come in a wide variety of designs, including different materials and patterns. You can choose an ornate urn in your loved one’s favorite color, or pick out several smaller containers to share among family members. Additionally, creative options like keepsake jewelry can be a beautiful way to remember your loved one. Pendants, lockets, and bracelets provide a unique way to keep cherished memories close.
EventsMany choose to display urns or bury remains in a cemetery, but if a traditional service doesn’t feel quite right, try a modern memorial with an unconventional twist. These unique options can uplift the spirits while saying final goodbyes.
- A butterfly release is a beautiful way to celebrate in the beauty of the outdoors.
- A tree planting provides a wonderful opportunity to cultivate new life, while honoring your love loved one.
- Different companies offer different scattering services by sea, air, and even fireworks!