Genevieve Stout author of 'The Living Years' and the 'And Me' series of books has become passionate about the importance of documenting family information after the death of a friend.
Genevieve wrote 'The Living Years' to make it easy for people to document information about themselves, using heading pages that prompts participants to document general information, including, information about your pet's, places you have travelled, world events that have impacted on you or your lifestyle, places you have lived, your schooling, your friends or your childhood.
This provides the opportunity to document life's achievements, challenges and matters of interest and importance. The prompts ensure you have many topics to write about which helps to make entries interesting and balanced.
Research amongst family, friends and contacts uncovered how very little information we really have on those closest to us.
She discovered we constantly underestimate the power of our journey.
For those who have lost close family members it wasn't just information about the significant events in their lives we needed to know, it was, not knowing simple information, about favourite colours or best movies that remained the unanswered questions.
Genevieve believes everybody should be encouraged to document basic information about themselves.
The mere fact that we have lived, worked, married, raised families, travelled etc. makes us all experts about the information highway we travel during our lifetime, and, we have a responsibility to pass on the knowledge we gain from our experiences.
The benefits of documenting information eases the burden of coping with loss, opens up the lines of communication within families and the documented information is a cherished family heirloom that puts you in a time and a place for future generations to reflect on their family history.
'The Living Years' and the 'And Me' books are designed to dispel individuals from thinking their personal experiences aren't interesting enough to document.
All of us are someone's daughter, son, sister, brother, mother, father, friend or lover and the love, experience, knowledge, wisdom and effort for each of those responsibilities is too enormous to walk away from this life without some form of documentation and testimony of insight into who we are.
Genevieve hosts a relaxed morning or afternoon tea visiting groups talking on
'The Importance of Documenting Information'.
As a result many people are eager to share their stories making it an
interesting, enjoyable and sometimes very funny activity.
If your group would like to organise a morning or afternoon tea please
phone 0400 647 771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE LIVING YEARS
How many times have we been to a funeral and the eulogy has been left to the priest, pastor or celebrant (unknown to us, and the deceased) to deliver. Though well intentioned and often delivered with finesse, using the information provided.
But there is something missing. You can't help but feel a sense of inadequacy when you consider that the person providing the eulogy is most likely the one in the congregation who has the least understanding of the life, challenges and achievements of the deceased.
All of us at some stage will have to contend with the death of a friend or member of the family.
Recently I attended a funeral and regrettably for the deceased, during the service there was no recognition of his stellar career and a very prosperous life that took him all over the world as an expert in his field.
He had been retired for twenty five years and was the last surviving member of his generation. He had married, but had no children and his wife had died several years earlier. Due to his extensive travel and reserved nature, he lived a very quiet but happy retirement mostly amongst his retired friends.
For nieces and nephews putting together his eulogy was almost an impossible task because they mostly remembered him in his retirement years.
He was never forgotten or left out at family gatherings but none of the family gatherings were in his honour so the opportunity never arose for the second generation or extended family to be acquainted with his life achievements or his friendships.
Time had taken its toll and though unintended, the participants at the funeral never really got to reflect on that part of his life for which he himself would have celebrated the most.
Sadly, through no fault of their own, the family got it wrong.
It wasn't until after his passing when friends and past work acquaintances gathered for his funeral could the family piece together his career highlights. The family soon realised that their lack of knowledge had understated a remarkable life.
Basic information of his working life or names of friends the family could have contacted before the funeral meant his eulogy may have included the accolades he richly deserved.
Will you be celebrated in death in a way that you wish to be remembered?
In life you tend not to go around asking your best friend or family members to say very nice things about you at the same time handing out lists of your triumphs.
Putting together a eulogy when emotions are running high is a very daunting task regardless of how close you are to the deceased. You reflect upon a person according to your personal experiences and emotions at the time and often your experience may not reflect the person to the wider congregation.
'The Living Years' takes the edge off this situation by providing important information and an opportunity to share milestones. It is not intended to be a personal diary but a summary of significant events.
'The Living Years' prompts important family discussion and creates a thirst for family information which can be recorded in 'The Living Years' book.
The second important reason for recording such information allows 'The Living Years' book to be used as a testimonial to be passed through the family so as knowledge of previous generations is not forgotten. It is essential for future generations each person records at the very least their basic information all in a concise journal that everyone has knowledge of its purpose.
During researching the need for such a book, it became evident the demand for such record keeping in a family truly does exist. I realised many people did not know very much about their family history and if they did it was by no means complete. Basic family knowledge was scarce past great grandparents. Many knew where their family origins were but didn't know anything about it. Divorce and second marriages prominent in current generations added significant confusion as to who was related and who wasn't, and raised more questions than answers.
'The Living Years' is designed to help family members reflect and collate information. It has a collection of details that outline exact dates, memoirs, special moments and experiences that influenced your life.
To record information you don't have to be rich or famous or gone where no man has been. You just need to have been born.
Regardless of what life you have led you have a position reserved for you on the family tree, that can only belong to you. Nobody else.
In spite of your family situation future generations will neither know nor care if you didn't speak to your sister because she borrowed your dress and ruined it, but they will care if they don't have any record of you.
For the sake of family friends and future generations document your details so the correct knowledge can put you into your unique position on the family tree.
It should be the responsibility of each generation to maintain their own family records so correct knowledge can be passed on to the next generation.
'The Living Years' is your opportunity to make your mark on history and be remembered through your eyes and not someone else's. It will be a testimony to your life and will ensure the evolution of your family tree is accurate and complete.