They’ll Thank You for Telling Your Story

tell your stories

They’ll Thank You for Telling Your Story

By Alyssa McNab, for the Pre-need Insurers Group of the Life Insurers Council

Funeral directors tell me they’re often asked why they choose to do what they do. In spite of the emotionally taxing situations, long hours and unpredictable schedules they face every day, one concept surfaces again and again: “Funeral service is really about telling the stories of the person who has died, in order to help their loved ones through the most difficult times in their lives.” In her article “The Storytellers,” industry expert Kim Medici Shelquist echoes their sentiment: “How can it ever be depressing to ensure that the stories get told, that lives are made significant through the stories? … I have the privilege of encouraging people to share their wishes and stories with their families so they will be honored in the way they choose and their lives will have significance long after they are gone.” This is what funeral directors really do best: Plan events that celebrate the life of a person in the way that will provide lasting comfort for the loved ones they’ve left behind. But truly creative and memorable funeral services require an understanding of an individual’s personality, interests, milestones and beliefs. Are you equipping your loved ones with stories that create memories today and will help them remember you after you’re gone? Will they know…
  • …what your childhood was like?
  • …your favorite place in the world?
  • …how you met the love of your life?
  • …the funniest thing you ever experienced?
  • …what motivated you through tough times?
These are the types of questions that can spark valuable stories. Questions like these can also take some thought – you may be surprised by what you recall and discover about yourself in the process of considering how you want to be remembered. Imagine how much more vivid your story will be when you take the time to share these thoughts with your loved ones! It’s both touching and inspiring to encounter stories of unique memorial celebrations that truly capture the personality of the person they’re intended to honor. The people who were responsible for these events clearly had a strong connection to their loved ones, and knew how to honor them in the ways that best fit their unique stories. One recent memorial that fits this description was for a man in California who loved the ocean. Some of his fondest memories were of visiting tide pools and abalone hunting with his family. When the man died, his loved ones scattered his ashes in the ocean, and then placed his photo in a bottle with a message: “Today my family is laying me to rest in a place that I love … the ocean. So, this starts my journey.” The family also set up a Facebook page, where people who find the bottle can share about where they found it before sending it back on its travels. This man’s story had a far-reaching impact, making headlines across the country and touching the lives of those who found the message in a bottle. Every person has the potential to be honored in a similarly meaningful way: a balloon release on the spot where your spouse proposed; bound collections of the poems you wrote, to be given to your loved ones as cherished keepsakes; a funeral service at which your loved ones wear your “signature” color or accessory and hear your favorite songs. Significant memorial events like these help families remember the lives of their loved ones and create new memories in the process. When you Have the Talk of a Lifetime, you’re doing more than easing your own mind and helping to prepare your family for the inevitable. You’re also bringing to light stories that otherwise may have never been told, and that will help your loved ones celebrate your one-of-a-kind life – long into the future.

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