There are people in my life that I miss. But I still feel connected to them through their stories. Remembering their stories, and sharing them as well, keeps them close to my heart.
We’re approaching the end of October and the beginning of November — a time in which many cultures remember beloved family and friends who have passed on. Halloween, All Souls Day, Day of the Dead to name a few, all happen around this time. Other cultures also have days or even a full month to remember beloved dead relatives and friends; in the Inca religion the entire month of November is ‘Ayamarca’, which translates to Festival of the Dead.
It may seem morbid to think about death, but in fact, becoming aware of our mortal
limitations enhances gratitude for the life that we have. Our appreciation for life may
increase when confronted with thoughts of our death. And contemplating death helps us live each day as we want to be remembered, doing the things that have meaning to us and living true to who we are and what we value.
And remembering the people we miss and their stories connects us to them, even if they are gone.
My beloved grandpa died in November (more than 30 years ago) but not a week goes by without his words in my head. He lived his life with such integrity.
My love of storytelling started with my grandpa. He was a master of showing what he wanted to say through story. As little kids my sister and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and sometimes we were naughty. Instead of lecturing, scolding, or worse, my grandpa would tell us a story from his life that showed us a better way to behave. As I grew he told stories of bravery, social justice, fairness and love and I realize now his stories live in me.
Why I’ll Write and Share Stories about People I Miss
My grandpa never wrote down his stories, so now it is up to me to reflect on what he told me and what I learned—and also what I learned and remember from each of my grandparents and my own parents as well. I want to capture these stories, the knowledge, the wisdom and the love so that they are not lost. I won’t be able to capture the exact stories, but I can find the essence of the stories and reflect on how the wisdom and love has played a role in my life.
I will be writing these stories each day in November.
November is National Book Writing Month. The official challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m not interested in writing a book right now and writing 1,667 words each day is more than I can commit to, but I’m accepting the challenge to write each day in November. My goal is 500 words per day.
Why Sharing Stories Matter
By writing these stories, I honor and remember my Elders. But by sharing these stories I do even more.
For generations, storytelling has brought people together as entertainment and a way to convey beliefs and ideas.These kinds of family stories build connection and show kids values without lecturing.
Two researchers at Emory University, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush have discovered that knowing family stories correlates with higher levels of self-esteem and confidence, self control and autonomy, resilience and grit. Dr. Duke says that children who have the most self-confidence have a strong “intergenerational self.” The way to achieve that is through sharing family stories, especially family narratives that share both the ups and downs.
The first step to telling family stories is simply to tell them, but there are better ways of saving them. When we write family stories down, we preserve them in a new way.
How to Share Stories Even If You Don’t Think You’re a Writer
Anyone can write life stories for themselves, and I want to help you get started. Like meditation, running or playing the piano, writing takes practice; it is like a muscle that you need to exercise. So building a writing habit helps tremendously in building your confidence in your writing.
Use the November challenge to write each day. Set a daily time to write for 20 minutes. By the end of the month your writing muscles will be strong, and at 200 words a day you will have 6,000 words or 25 pages! You’ll have started a writing practice.
You become a writer by writing, so start to write today. Tap into your memories. Tap into love. Remember the story your grandma told you about being brave — and you feel her helping you be brave as well. Put the words on paper.
Write your stories down. Save them. You’ll be surprised how much it means — to you the writer and to those with whom you share.
The Help You Need to Share Your Stories
It all starts with your stories and a desire to share them. Sometimes you need to dig deeper to get more stories — or learn more about the stories you’ve heard. That means asking questions. Get 5 to get you started:
Get the Questions to Ask to Learn About Your Family History by signing up below!
Once you have your stories, you can write regularly to develop that writing habit. And if you want more support, you can get it.
I’m a transformative writing coach and my passion is helping people discover and write their stories for themselves and others. I can help you go deeper into your stories, find ways to make them clearer, tap into the reasons and values the stories evokes—your why for sharing it.
Write all your stories down. Save them. You’ll be surprised how much it means — to you, the writer, and to those who read it. Often the first step in saving family stories is learning them, which means asking questions. Here are 5 to get you started.