Families often look for ways to commemorate and memorialize their loved one’s life when they enter hospice care. One great way to do this is by creating a life book. These books are made up of a person’s life history, heritage, cherished stories, and advice for posterity. Making a life book not only gives the family a tangible keepsake to remember their loved one by, but the process of putting the book together can also be very therapeutic.
Make the Framework
The first step is to create a loose framework of the outline of the information you want to include in the book. Get a list of questions together and major events you think might paint a good picture of your loved one’s life. Remember, this is just a framework, and you’re likely to find more information you didn’t think of after talking with your loved one, so don’t hold on to this framework too tightly.
Some good general categories to start with are: where they grew up, what their childhood was like, where they went to school, how they met their spouse, what it was like to raise children, what they did for a living, the most important advice they ever heard, the happiest moment of their life, the craziest thing they ever did, favorite hobbies, and how they hope to be remembered.
Start with What You Already Know
Now that you have a framework, start filling it in with what you already know. Once you fill out everything you know, start asking friends and family to help fill in the gaps. This is also a great time to ask others if there are any other bits of information they think would make good additions to the book.
Set Up the Interview
After talking with friends and family it’s time to schedule a sit down with your loved one and talk with them about their life story. You’ll want to pick a time when you can have their full and undivided attention. It’s also a good idea to break up this interview process into a couple meeting so no one gets overwhelmed. Run through your list of questions and carefully write down or record their answers.
Putting it Together
You have two basic options when you’re putting all the information together – digital or print. If your tech savvy enough, you can use a variety of web-based memory book making services. These programs usually don’t charge you to put the book together, just to print it. If computers aren’t your thing, then head to the craft store and stock up on construction paper and scrapbooking supplies. Whichever way you go, it’s best to tell the story in chronological order and try to get as many pictures as possible.