How Will They Tell The Stories Of Your Life?

The thing about death is it reminds you the story we are telling has finality.
— Donald Miller

What we remember most about those that we have lost are in the stories we tell. 

That is if we know those stories! 

How do you preserve the life stories of the ones that you have loved? How will they tell the stories of your life one day? 

20,000 Days And Counting

Last year I celebrated my 20,000 day birthday. (Really) The champagne flowed. We laughed and cried. My wife and kids and I went on a surprise adventure that involved souks, surfing sand dunes and lying in the sun. The story of my 20,000 day birthday will be told for a while yet. I intentionally celebrated my 20,000 day birthday for a reason I will tell you later. 

My Granddad and Nanna had a tough life growing up in Birmingham during the Blitz of WWII. I am sure that there are so many stories that would make me laugh, cry or be inspired. However, I do not know those stories. While it is only a generation away, the lives of those people I loved fades as the year's increase. Will their great-grandchildren know those stories? Will their great-great-grandchildren even know their names?

The psychologist Roy Baumeister argues that we may expect to be remembered for about a maximum of 70 years. He points out that not many people can name even their great-grandparents. 

He is right. I do not know the names of my great-grandparents. Do you?

Do you remember when ...? 

We do not remember much about our lives, do we?

The unfortunate thing about life is we do not remember half of it. We do not remember half of half of it. We may not remember even a tiny percentage of the days, weeks and months of our life. However, what we do tend to recall, are memorable scenes that happen within our lives. Memorable scenes, times when something crazy happened. Times when we risked, loved, laughed and lost. Times, when we took the extra effort to make a scene something memorable.

Inspiring me to celebrate my 20,000 day birthday was a book. “A Million Miles In A Thousand Hours,” by Donald Miller. It profoundly impacted the way I saw my life. It made me think about the stories I would want my family telling about "crazy dad" in future years. 

“The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.” Donald Miller

It made me travel 7182 miles to cook a burger for my kids. It forced me to start to write down the stories of my life online. It made me intentionally create memories. Becuase some day, I want those stories to be told about how I lived and loved.

“If you aren’t telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died.  Donald Miller

What happens if you do not know those stories and a loved one passes away?

In a previous post - Do You Want The Right To Be Forgotten Or The Ability To Be Remembered? I wrote about the rise of online memorials. It seems every week a new platform is launched encouraging people to upload their memories online. This development online is progress. This is an excellent example of how digital disruption is bringing help, healing and hope for people who have a lost a loved one.

Memorates is one such website. While many sites encourage leaving messages and condolences, what I like about this platform it is driven by the desire to tell, preserve and share the stories of a loved that has passed away.

As with many such products, the origin of the idea is born out of the tragedy of personal loss.

One translation of the word Memorates is - An oral narrative from memory relating a personal experience, especially the precursor of a legend. It comes from the Latin memoratus, past participle of memorare ("to bring to remembrance, mention, recount")

Lauralee, one of the creators of the site, tells how suddenly her brother Brig who was only 35 passed away.  He had young three daughters. The family started to email and gather stories about Brig so that his girls could know their father. They one day could read the stories of his life.

Lauralee writes,

"We discovered that these memories brought comfort to us as well and a way to mourn his loss. Upon hearing stories of him, I’d never heard before I felt closer to him like we were back together again sharing stories of times past. It brought its own pain and comfort and only later did I realise it also brought healing."

The Memorates platform is free from distractions and looks well designed. It encourages the writing of stories by asking questions. It appears to make it easy to share through email or social media the requests for people to collaborate on stories, adding their memories.

It could, of course, be used for collecting the stories of people who have passed. It would, however, make an interesting tool to use in the end of life planning marketplace. For palliative care workers or content creators in hospice care, for example, a tool like Memorates could help a family begin to tell the stories of a person's life. 

What about you? What stories of your life will they tell someday? When was the last time you intentionally created memories? If this idea has piqued your interest, go read Donal Miller's book. You just might start counting your days.


New Podcast From Death Goes Digital Echoleft platform creates wonderful life stories, re-touches and fixes old photos, which you then can share publicly or remain completely private. Echoleft can bring together every part of a life story in one place. In this podcast I chat with Max Shelly from Echoleft about online memorials.

This Is How To Create Memories Online & Help Charities - Echoleft