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Get Conversations Flowing With These Tips

People Chatting

Isn’t it funny how sometimes conversations just take off with no effort, and other times it’s like pulling teeth to talk to someone? This can happen whether someone is a stranger or a member of your own family. When you Have the Talk of a Lifetime, conversations about the things that matter most to your loved ones and how they can be remembered and honored in a meaningful way, it’s helpful to have some tips to get that conversation flowing. Try these suggestions to get the information you’re looking for:

Keep the Tone Friendly

No 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 Positive

It’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 Good

Many 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, Questions

The 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 Open

You’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 Lifetime

Now 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! Visit www.talkofalifetime.org today and find out how to get your talk started today.

Celebrate “Have the Talk of a Lifetime” Month

Tree While it’s always a great time to chat with your friends and family, November marks a special occasion. As you gather with loved ones this Fall, take time to celebrate “Have the Talk of a Lifetime” month with special activities and events designed to bring you and yours closer. Just what is this monthly celebration all about? Find out more with our guide, and start planning!

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!
Contact us at havethetalkofalifetime@gmail.com for any questions you may have. Visit www.talkofalifetime.org today to get started.

What are the Best Cremation Options for Celebrating a Life?

Field While burials were once the more common option, cremation services continue to grow in popularity in the United States. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, 50.2% of Americans chose cremation in 2016. Cremation services can be every bit as personal and meaningful as traditional funeral services, and there are plenty of cremation options for celebrating a life well-lived. The best time to start thinking about this is now, by Having the Talk of a Lifetime to share what matters most to you and your loved ones. Learn all about the ways that you can create a beautiful cremation service that truly reflects the spirit of your loved one.

Cremation Options

You 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.

Urns

After 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.

Events

Many 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!

Service

Whether you choose a personal remembrance service at a funeral home or a personal, more modern memorial somewhere else, you can create a wonderful celebration of your loved one. Consider taking some time to Have the Talk with friends and family about your favorite memories. Did your loved one have a favorite song or a favorite food? Create a list of all the qualities you loved, and then think of ways to introduce these qualities into the service. Create a custom playlist to celebrate a music aficionado, or host a potluck to memorialize your favorite foodie. This can also be a great time to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your friends and family.

How-to Guide: Restoring Old Photos

Photo Film Among the most treasured items for every family are the old photos that help us recall the past.  They help us revive stories of past summers, family histories, laughter, sadness and so much more. These photos are important because they are all a part of our story and who we are today.  Many of those treasured photos have stood the test of time, but all photographs eventually show their age after years of handling, and some are damaged beyond what we think can be repaired. Thankfully, there are tools and methods that can help restore most, if not all of your most treasured pictures.

Electronic

This method is the most common, and you may have luck finding someone help you restore with this method. Reach out to your family members to see if anyone has experience using programs such as Photoshop, you may be surprised to discover a relative that has photo editing abilities!
  • Pros: Photographs are uploaded onto a computer, so you get an enhanced digital copy that may be replicated as many times as you’d like.
  • Cons: Professional electronic restoration requires sophisticated software, so the service can be expensive. DIY software is less precise, but more cost-effective.

Chemical

You may not have a family member that specializes in this method, but if you have an original photograph, chemical restoration may be a good option for you! A professional can bleach and redevelop the photograph to enhance clarity.
  • Pros: This method enhances the original photograph rather than creating a new picture, which may be preferable to those wanting to keep the original photo for sentimental value.
  • Cons: Chemical restoration is an exact science, so only photographic conservators can safely redevelop your original. This process is irreversible, so be careful!

Copying

This is an inexpensive and effective method that utilizes a copy of your original, rather than manipulating the original itself. Since you will always have the original, you don’t have to worry about ruining your relatives prized snapshot.
  • Pros: This method is both affordable and practical. You’ll have a spare, enhanced copy of the original photograph in case the original is ever lost. Plus, you can do everything from boosting colors to lightening stains.
  • Cons: This may not be an effective method for very old, delicate photographs due to their stability.

Airbrush

The airbrush technique requires a keen eye and a steady hand, but the results can be breathtaking. While other methods are more tech-savvy, airbrushing is the most artistic.
  • Pros: Airbrushing is done on a copy of the original, so you won’t harm the original. The artist can fix cracks, darkened areas, stains, and more by hand.
  • Cons: This service is typically around 50 to 250 dollars, and too much airbrushing may change the character of your photograph.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime with Your Loved Ones

Restoring old photos is a way to preserve the past and memories of your loved ones for years to come. Gathering and sharing old photographs and the stories that go with them is a great way to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with those you hold dear.

Celebrate National Family History Month

Child In Costume

Funeral service professionals, community groups, historians, storytellers, and genealogical and historical societies promote and celebrate National Family History Month as way to commemorate every family’s rich and deep history.

The Funeral Service Foundation and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) have teamed up to help funeral homes across the country host events in their communities to celebrate National Family History month. During the month of October, these free events for families focus on the importance of capturing our unique stories and sharing what matters most through fun, hands-on activities. Build your family tree, carve a pumpkin, make a scrapbook, or explore genealogy all while sharing family stories. Whatever the activity, you’re sure to learn something new about your family history!

Find an event near you!

When you attend a Family History Month event you’ll receive a deck of the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards, created by NFDA with support of the Funeral Service Foundation. The cards are simple conversation starters that feature thoughtful questions to help you and your loved ones talk about your life stories and special memories – family vacations, favorite pastimes, pieces of advice. Discovering more about those memorable events, people, places, values and lessons learned can help bring you closer to the people you care about.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards are perfect for:

  • A casual gathering of family and friends

  • Family dinner and celebrations

  • Holiday gatherings

  • Family reunions

  • Vacations/car trips

Whether you have just a few minutes in the car while running an errand or an entire weekend together with family and friends, it’s easy to start having the Talk of a Lifetime!

Have the Talk Today!

Of course, you don’t need to attend a National Family History Month event to share stories and strengthen connections with your loved ones. Anytime and is a good time to learn more about what matters most. Browse our FAQ page and resources for help getting started.

Developing Your Legacy: Ways to be Remembered

Flowers

Though everyone has different dreams and aspirations, most want to know they’ve made an impact on the world in some way. Whether you want to be remembered for your leadership at work or for your commitment to family, it’s important to think about your legacy. We’ve compiled a list of the top ways to be remembered, so you can live your best possible life in the present and build your legacy for the future in one fell swoop!

Relationship to Self

It’s not selfish to think about what you really want to get out of life. In fact, it’s vital. Take some time to really think about your passions so you can create goals that truly motivate you.

  • Figure out what makes you excited. Do you get a rush from your job? Are you more passionate about philanthropy? Do you thrive off interactions with others? Find out what makes you passionate and pursue it!

  • Create both short term and long term goals to continue your progress. Maybe that means putting aside some money from each paycheck to travel the world, or maybe you want to start junior’s college fund as soon as possible.

  • Think about your values and whether your life is in line with those standards. You can enrich your life with humanitarian pursuits like volunteering and donating to important causes.

 

Relationships to Others

While it’s crucial to think of your own needs and wants when living your life, it’s also important to connect with others. Here are some ways to connect with others in your community:

  • Create strong relationships with your family. The memories and connections that you develop in the present will be remembered for generations in the future.

  • Consider having The Talk of a Lifetime with those you love to reflect on your lives. Find out how others want to be remembered, so you can develop your own meaningful legacy.

  • Try to build others up with kindness. Whether speaking to coworkers or your kids, a little compassion can go a long way.

  • Think about how you are giving back to the world. Though your money and time are your own to spend as you wish, you may be surprised by how great it feels to give back to causes that you believe in.

  • Celebrate the achievements of others, no matter how big or small. Treat your kids to something special for the first day of school, send your grandmother flowers on her birthday, send your sibling a housewarming gift – Life’s too short not to celebrate as much as possible!

Sharing your Legacy

Whatever you hope your legacy to be, the most important thing is to ensure that you share your wishes with those you love most. Having the Talk of a Lifetime is a great way to share all the things you care about, and all the pieces of your legacy that made you unique. Having the Talk with your loved one’s now can help them celebrate you better when you die. You build your legacy everyday though your life and your actions! Take the time to talk to the ones you care about most, and let them know how you want to be remembered.

Protecting Family Memories with Photographs

Photographs

We all have those old photos, many with minimal to no identifying information, stored away at the bottom of the picture box waiting to be explored. These old photos can unlock treasured memories that may otherwise have been forgotten. Digging out those old photographs is a great way to Have the Talk of a Lifetime and open new discussions about your family history. You might learn something new about your loved ones as you work together to preserve them.

Today there are options for sharing these old photos. Whenever there’s a large family gathering on the schedule, the cameras tend to come out! Photographs are a great way to jump start your Talk of a Lifetime. Just one click can capture the vivid colors, the happy expressions, and the beautiful scenery of a memorable day. But, delicate photographs are also prone to fading, discoloration, and tearing.

They say a picture is work a thousand words. Make sure you don’t let those old memories fade away. Learn the steps to protecting those treasured photos and family memories, so you can pass these mementos to future generations!

Why Do Photographs Deteriorate?

Photographs are made of several layers: a top layer of colored gelatin, a layer of adhesive, and the photographic paper. Deterioration over time can affect each layer in different ways, resulting in a dull or discolored image. The last thing you want is to gather around the photos, only to discover they are in worse condition than the last time you reminisced over them! Here are the most common factors that can ruin your prized prints:

  • Temperature and humidity are two of the biggest factors that can wreak havoc on your photographs. Humidity can cause mold to form on the gelatin layer, while fluctuating temperatures can cause the base to warp.

  • Air pollutants can also harm your pictures. Be wary of cleaning products, oil-based paint, and other volatile chemicals. They should be stored away from your photo album.

  • While temperature and humidity can be harmful, don’t forget about light. Fluorescent and ultraviolet light can quickly deteriorate the vivid colors of your prints.

  • If a natural disaster strikes, be sure to check on your photo collection. A flood or a fire can destroy cherished pictures rapidly, so consider storing your valuable photos in a safe or other protective unit.

How Should I Store My Photographs?

While you can go as low- or high-tech as you’d like, it’s easy to store your photos by following a few simple guidelines. When storing stacks of prints, prevent sticking by placing sheets of acid-free paper or plastic between each print. If you’d prefer to use a photo album, look for terms like archival quality, or PVC and acid-free paper. This will help prolong the quality of your prints as you store them for the long term and for generations to come. Also, it may be worth your time to scan your favorite photos to create a digital copy, perhaps saving a folder of photos for each family member to reflect upon. This gives you a crystal-clear image as a backup, just in case anything happens to the original, and you will have a digital photo album of each of your loved ones for special occasions, or when you need them to honor their lives.

As you’re preparing your portfolio, consider gathering a stack of faded photographs from your loved ones, and make sure you make a family project out of the task. Talk about the events that were taking place at the time of each of the photos, and share stories of the loved ones that are in them. You can often rekindle some wonderful memories while restoring these priceless keepsakes. Be sure to record these memories in writing as they are shared. This will help avoid future family mysteries, and will ensure that those stories live on after we are gone.

For more ideas about how to share family stories and legacies, download our free Have the Talk of a Lifetime guides and workbooks.

Effective Family Communication Results in Healthy Relationships

Sunset

Every family is unique. Some families are loud and boisterous, with everyone fighting to get a word in edgewise, while others are more private and reserved. Every family has its own way of communicating, and that communication style is an integral part of building healthy relationships, as well as individual self-esteem. These tips will help ensure the effectiveness each time you and your family takes part in a Talk of a Lifetime.

What is Effective Family Communication?

Communicating with family is typically very direct and open. People often tell each other what to do, and we often have a lot of bad habits, like interrupting. Effective family communication creates an environment where family members are comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings, making relationships stronger and equipping them with the tools they need to handle other life situations. This means listening closely, being open to other ideas, and really thinking about how to respond.

Learn to Listen

Listening skills are critical for success in life – at school, work, and in relationships. Helping your children learn to really hear what someone is saying, show empathy, and provide problem solving without judgment is invaluable. Role playing is a great exercise, especially if parents and children reverse roles. Modeling the behavior you want to see is highly effective.

Tell Us How You Really Feel

Just the act of expressing feelings can dramatically decrease a person’s anger and stress. If your family often yells and argues, it might be because those emotions are coming out without the expression of what’s really going on in someone’s head. You can defuse these situations by taking a deep breath and just saying, “Stop. Tell me what’s going on.” The more everyone can practice using words to describe how they truly feel and what their goals are, the more you’ll be able to problem solve as a family unit.

Healthy Relationships

With effective family communication comes trust and bonding, which is exactly what you need when challenges come up within your family and in other environments. Children need the confidence and security that comes with being able to share things without judgment and ridicule, and a safe family environment makes them feel valued and provides them with self-esteem.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime Today

Effective communication is essential when having the Talk of a Lifetime with loved ones and friends. Communicating how you want to be remembered is so important, but often overlooked until it is too late. If you have any questions about how to begin the conversation, browse our FAQ page or contact us today.

Uncovering the Family Tree: Tips for Genealogy Interviews

Reading in the Park Every family has a rich history, full of fascinating stories and wonderful memories. While many anecdotes are lost along the way, you can preserve these tales for the future with just a little effort. It all starts with a great conversation. In this blog, we go through our best tips for genealogy interviews. Read through our recommendations, print out a Workbook, and then invite your family over for the Talk of a Lifetime!

Tools of the Trade

Before you start your interview, it’s important to be prepared. While you should keep your focus on the conversation at hand, taking a few notes will help you keep names and dates straight. Many of the Talk of a Lifetime materials include space for notes, but tech-savvy individuals may record audio or video of the interview to remember every last detail. Consider typing up your notes after the interview is over, so you have a written record of what was said.

Getting Started

Treat your genealogy interview like a normal conversation with your family member. Start with the oldest generation of your family, like your grandparents. Let them know that you’re interested in recording the family history and ask them if they’d like to contribute. Most relatives will be overjoyed to bring out the photo album and recall their favorite memories!

Asking Questions

It’s a great idea to make a list of genealogy-related questions, but let the conversation flow organically as possible. Make sure that your relatives are comfortable during the process, and don’t push too hard on specifics. Often, exact dates and names get a little fuzzy with time, but any information is still worth jotting down. Here are some prompts to get you started:
  • What is your favorite memory from childhood?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What historical events do you remember from your lifetime?
  • What was your parents’ best advice for you?
  • Who is the oldest relative you remember?

Recording the Present

While uncovering the past, you may learn more about your family in the present. As the conversation moves in different directions, don’t miss out on the chance to learn more about your interviewee! This can be the perfect time to introduce the Talk of a Lifetime. Speak to your relatives about their life stories and learn how they would like to be remembered for future generations.

Celebrate Grandparent’s Day by Having the Talk of a Lifetime

Elderly Couple

While you can celebrate your family every day, Grandparent’s Day provides a special opportunity to spend extra time with those you hold dear. This festive holiday falls on the Sunday after Labor Day, which gives you plenty of time to plan! Whether you go out for brunch or stay in and chat, you’ll make wonderful memories that you can cherish forever. This is a great opportunity to use the Have the Talk of a Lifetime materials to learn a little bit more about your grandparents on this special day.

Getting the Word Out

Not everyone has Grandparent’s Day penciled into their schedule, so get the word out to inspire your friends and family to participate! Sure, you can send a quick email or text to your contacts, but why not take to social media? Use the hashtag #DoSomethingGrand to connect with others around the world!

Plan an Activity Together

Grandparent’s Day is a special occasion, use the day to plan something fun! Brainstorm your grandparent’s favorite activities. Maybe Grandpa would love watching a ball game in the stands, or maybe your Grandma would love some help in the garden. If you can’t think of any shared hobbies, consider volunteering for a cause that matters to your family. From animal shelters to food banks, these organizations always appreciate an extra set of hands!

Stay in and Chat

Of course, you could always celebrate from home! Why not celebrate Grandparent’s Day by having the Talk of a Lifetime? Download and print a free Activity Guide and fill out as much as you can! Take this time to have an in-depth conversation with your grandparents about their personal history. Bring out the old photo album and flip through every page, or ask a few questions about a family heirloom. As you learn more about your grandparents, you’ll get a better idea of how they want to be remembered. Consider starting with a few of these prompts to get the ball rolling:

• What is your most treasured achievement in life?

• What was the best advice you’ve ever gotten from a family member?

• What is your favorite thing to do when you have free time?

If you need more advice on having the Talk of a Lifetime, feel free to check out the Talk of a Lifetime website for additional resources!