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.

Effective Ways to Keep Memories Alive

Sombody holding a keepsake book

Fading memories can be an all too common outcome when a loved one passes away:

  • “I can’t remember what Mom’s voice sounded like.”
  • “Do you remember what color Dad’s eyes were?”
  • “What was that great recipe Grandma used to make?”

You can Have the Talk of a Lifetime with treasured friends and family members today to preserve these memories with clarity so you will have fewer regrets when they are no longer around.

As you get reacquainted or better acquainted with those you love most, the following ideas can help you keep treasured memories alive.

3 Great Ways to Keep Memories Alive

As you and your loved ones talk about the things that matter most in life, these ideas can help you preserve important memories. Someday, as these friends and family members are memorialized and the lives they led are remembered, you’ll be glad you preserved so many cherished details by having the “Talk of a Lifetime”.

  • For the Record: Take time to sit down with your loved ones and make audio and/or video recordings. Get them talking about stories they remember from childhood, their favorite foods, activities or songs, funny and embarrassing moments—all those little details that add up to who they are and should be remember when they are gone.
  • Online Family Scrapbook: Go through family photos with your loved ones and take time to organize and scan them into a computer. You’re certain to find snapshots you’d forgotten about and even some you’ve never seen before. Ask your loved ones to write down (or preserve on a voice recorder) some of the stories that go along with these pictures. Use an online blog site (there are plenty of great ones on the Web that don’t cost anything) to post the photos and stories. Share the Web link with your family members near and far so they can access this virtual scrapbook, and encourage them to post their own photos and stories to add to the collection.
  • Remember When? Nothing rekindles memories and strengthens family ties like a trip down memory lane. At your next family gathering, have your relatives sit down together for a game of “Remember When?” Write each person’s name on a slip of a paper and put the names in a bowl or other container. Draw out the names one at a time and have each person in the group, in turn, share a “remember when?” memory:

    • “Remember when we snuck out of the house to go to that rock concert?”
    • “Remember when Uncle Joe crashed his car into the front yard?”
    • “Remember when we put that fake spider in Grandpa’s bed?”

Get ready for warm remembrances and lots of laughter! The younger generation of family members will also get a glimpse into the past and get to know their relatives in a whole new way.

Preserve Your Memories…and Take Time to Make New Ones

Click here for more information on how to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with the ones you love.

Connecting With the Past to Make a Difference

Family History

We all have treasured family stories that have been told to generations of children, over and over again. But have you ever asked yourself how much you really, truly know about your loved ones? As life moves faster, and the people we care about get older, we need to stop for a moment and Have the Talk of a Lifetime.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime

It’s interesting and enlightening getting to know someone in a new and different way, and life’s stories take on new importance when someone passes away. When all that’s left are memories, these remembrances make memorials and the grieving process more manageable for the people left behind. Those funny stories that make you smile through your tears, the old newspaper clippings of sports awards and retirement ceremonies, and of course, old photographs – all provide great comfort during the healing process.

Questions to Ask

It may feel awkward at first to just start asking questions, but once you get started, you’ll find that these conversations are fun and illuminating. You may even discover some juicy tidbits about your family. So next time you’re on a walk, having dinner, or just hanging out, try out a few of these questions on someone you love:

  • Tell me how your parents met.
  • Where did you grow up? What was your childhood home like?
  • What’s some advice your parents or grandparents gave you that you’ve never forgotten?
  • Do you remember any of your older relatives? What were they like?
  • Tell me about your summers growing up. What can you remember most?
  • What was school like? Who was your favorite teacher? What were your favorite subjects?
  • Did your family have holiday traditions? What were they?
  • Who were some of your childhood friends? What did you like to do with them?
  • How old were you when you started working? What was your first job?
  • How did you meet your husband or wife? 
  • Tell me about the day you got married.
  • Tell me about when your children were born.
  • What was your favorite job you ever had? Why?
  • Who have you looked up to over the years?
  • What were you doing when you heard that President Kennedy was shot (or another historical event, such as 9/11)?
  • What do you like to read? What do you like to watch on television?
  • What are your favorite songs?
  • When were you the happiest in your life?
  • What achievement makes you most proud?

Connect With the Past

There are threads that run through families, and Have the Talk of a Lifetime is a way to connect to the past and create new memories to pass down. Contact us to learn more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime today.