Two of our family’s most-treasured possessions are family history books. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will always know the legacies of my mother and mother-in-law, both strong, determined women who—with the assistance of other family members—created these cherished volumes.
If you are considering this possibility, let me encourage you with these few observations:
• Begin the process now, before memories or artifacts disappear. Your first steps will become a profound journey.
• Assemble materials that might engender memories and stories, and make the final result a pleasing artifact. Consider photographs, awards, cards and letters, journals, videos, newspaper clippings, documents, high school or college yearbooks, family heirlooms—anything that might spark conversation.
• Start a process of story-sharing or interviewing that honors the capabilities of the beloved older adult whose life you hope to chronicle. Remember that this process will take time!
• Besides keeping accurate written notes, consider making audio files with your smartphone, asking another family member to be the notetaker, or engaging the services of a *writing coach.
• Assemble the raw material for the history before settling on a final outline.
• Use the Web to find other resources for this process. (See https://www.thoughtco.com/steps-to-writing-your-family-history-1422877 as one example.)
• Take lots of photographs, especially of significant people, objects or documents.
• Take advantage of the insights and memories of many family members.
• Be patient with yourself and all who are involved. The quality of this work may be most dependent on your willingness to keep at the process over time.
• Keep in mind the long-range outcome you hope for: A heightened awareness of the strengths and blessings of your family that will last into coming generations.
Be ready to enjoy both the hard work and the surprises along the way! Your rewards will grow and your spirit will rejoice!
*Two spiritually mature writing coaches whom I hold in high esteem:
• Rochelle Melander (www.writenowcoach.com) is also a certified life coach.
• Beth Nyland (firstname.lastname@example.org) prepares even the most reluctant writers to find, tell, and share their stories.