Loss is a grievous thing. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a pet, even the loss of a favorite toy or T.V. show, all of these things cause grief. However, loss isn’t just the absence of something you once had. Loss can also be missing out on the opportunity to experience something in the first place.
This hits home for me when talking about family history. Never getting the chance to experience and understand your family history is definitely a form of loss - a lost opportunity for knowledge of your family and of yourself, a lost opportunity to continue a legacy created by your ancestors.
Our memories and our history must be preserved to ensure that curious minds to come can gain an understanding of their heritage.
There’s a wide and potentially endless variety of ways to eternalize your memory. The two that I have found most useful are photography and writing.
Many of us have pictures we’ve taken throughout our lives, spanning over years of adventures and experience. These photos hold so much more than personal memories. They allow others to take a glimpse into our lives that would otherwise be unobtainable. If you don’t currently own many photos of a time since past, I urge you to start now. I guarantee that it is never too late. Your loved ones will cherish any visual memory they have of you.
If you do own photos, new or old, I recommend storing them digitally. Here is a fantastic step by step guide that makes storing them a quick and simple process. With the inevitable decay of physical photos, it would be a shame for them to be lost or destroyed before they can be passed down.
I recently found an old photo album containing childhood photos of my mother. Somehow, throughout my entire life, I had never seen these photos. These captured moments blew me away. They gave me a perspective into her life, and who she was, that nothing else could have done. She looked young and she smiled with the carelessness of a child. She looked innocent and inexperienced. She looked like someone who I had never met, yet her features resembled my own. I’ve always loved my mother and have always been close to her, but something about seeing these memories of a younger person made the entirety of her life feel much more real to me.
Take photos when you're happy, when you're sad, when you’re home, or on vacation. All of these moments hold their own stories and feelings. Sharing moments of your life with younger generations through photographs allows them to see you in a way that words could only attempt to describe.
Words, however, do serve a great purpose when passing along your life’s memories. A medium thought by some to be dead is very much alive and irreplaceable.
There are many ways to use the written word to pass along a memory. You can write a memoir, you can write an autobiography (there is a distinct difference between the two), you can even put together an ethical will.
Writing does what a photo can’t. When you write for the purpose of handing down your memories, you get to add the details that you find important. This isn’t to say you should lie or only include favorable aspects, it means that you get to highlight the significance of particular events, show your reader what was truly important to you.
I have found memoirs to be the most effective when passing along specific memories. A memoir gives you the freedom to describe a situation as well as your internal interaction with the situation; how that moment made you feel. A memoir gives you the freedom to choose the moments in your life that you feel have defined your growth and your character. Not only are memoirs beneficial to the reader, but with the passion and emotion that goes into a memoir, they become a form of therapy for the author. Here are some incredibly
I have found memoirs to be the most effective when passing along specific memories. A memoir gives you the freedom to describe a situation as well as your internal interaction with the situation; how that moment made you feel. A memoir gives you the freedom to choose the moments in your life that you feel have defined your growth and your character. Not only are memoirs beneficial to the reader, but with the passion and emotion that goes into a memoir, they become a form of therapy for the author. Here are some incredibly helpful tips on memoir writing.
I keep a list of written stories from my life. These tend to be stories of situations that I found funny or naturally entertaining. One of the best experiences I have had writing these stories is the amount of forgotten detail that comes back to me throughout the process. I’ve remembered events so significant no one would believe that anyone could forget them, but somehow I had. Writing not only indulges the curious minds of generations to come, it also refreshes the mind with which it is written.
Go Out and Save Those Memories!
Our lives matter. They matter to us, and they matter to those around us. Our lives matter to those we haven’t met yet, and to those, we may never get a chance to meet. The best we can hope for is the opportunity to satiate the curiosity of our descendants when they come searching for our memories. So whether it’s your memories or the memories of a loved one that you wish to preserve, your efforts will have a profound impact on generations to come.