Learning more about your family history may be as simple as asking a question. Many seniors are eager to share their past, but are stymied by the idea of choosing where to begin and writing it all down.
Asking the senior in your life a series of stimulating questions reduces the task from thinking about their whole life to just answering a question. Questions like: “did you ever have a childhood nemesis?” or “what were your grandparents like?” spark a bit of reminiscing and inspire distinct stories. If you’re strapped for questions, StoryCorps – a nonprofit that helps to record, share, and preserve stories – offers a large selection geared towards encouraging people to tell their stores. They even have a question generator!
While seniors may want to share their memories, some find writing to be tedious or problematic. If asking your loved one to write about his life yields blank pages, consider engaging him in a correspondence. Including your questions in a weekly email or letter might encourage him to write a specific story in a timely manner. Similarly, you can take notes during conversations/interviews with your loved one and write the story afterwards. A written account is just one way to share and archive memories, you can also work with your loved one to make audio or video recordings of their stories.
Collect memories and learn about your family history one question at a time, open a dialogue with your loved one today.