The Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) created Have the Talk of a Lifetime to help families have important conversations about the things that matter most to them and how a person’s life story can be remembered and honored in a meaningful way. Memorialization is so much more than it used to be. Today it can reflect a person’s life story, values, interests and experiences. Meaningful memorialization can be transformative, healing and comforting. Have the Talk of a Lifetime offers families practical advice and tools to help them have conversations about the things that matter most and how they hope to be remembered when they die and for generations to come.
Deep down, most of us want to know that we, in some way, made a difference in this world. Having the Talk of a Lifetime can make the difference of a lifetime. It can help reacquaint us with our loved ones and help us get to know them in a new and different way. Sitting down with your loved ones to talk about their lives can be rich and satisfying. Learning about memorable events and people, places and favorite activities, values and lessons they have learned can help bring us closer to those we care about most. The talk helps us reaffirm to our loved ones how much they have impacted our life.
You can have the talk of a lifetime with anyone you hold dear – your parents, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, a spouse or a friend. It can happen anywhere you and your loved one are most comfortable – over a meal, at home, on a walk, at a family gathering or while playing a game. Your conversation can take place at any time, not just at the end of life.
Sometimes, using a visual prompt, such as a photo album, souvenir, or memento, can be a great way to start a conversation. Memorable places, such as the church where your loved one was married or a favorite park can also help someone begin to open up and share their story. You could share a memory about a vacation you took together and will always remember, a piece of advice that you cherish, a song that reminds you of them or the reasons you will never forget them. You may wish to take notes during or after your conversation, or make an audio recording. You should choose whatever method seems most appropriate and comfortable given the setting of your conversation.
Some questions you could ask to start the talk are:
What is your proudest achievement?
What was the one piece of advice you received from your parents or grandparents that you never forgot?
Tell me about the most memorable summer you had growing up.
Tell me about your favorite teacher; what did you learn from him or her?
If you could spend a day doing anything you like, what would it be?
Who has been your greatest inspiration?