Documentation might sound dull and to many it might be. I love documentation. I have a minor in museum studies and have worked in a halfway house where documentation was key and legally binding. I might just be one of those who really likes to document. Knowing that not all people love to document, I urge you to take the time to document key things for the family.
Family History: Sit down with your older family members and listen to their stories. Perhaps if you live far away, you can Skype of call them on the phone. You can document these stories in a number of ways. You can keep a written document of their stories. You can audio record their stories. If you are really media savvy, you can incorporate old photographs and their story to create a cohesive narrative for the whole family. Maybe not all of us can trace our heritage to the Mayflower or have a president of the US in our family, but the stories of our family tells us who we come from and their stories created who we are. We can gain strength from their struggles and pass their stories on to the following generations.
Photographs: Go through old photographs with people of the older generation. Today we can scan in pictures and create memory books or a database of these old photographs. Label these photographs with who is depicted and what event is taking place. So much can so easily be lost by not taking the time to find out who are in these old pictures we have stored away. Sometimes these pictures can help jar the memory of the older generation, and make it a fun way to learn family history.
The Stuff of Our Lives: Maybe the things we treasure most are not things of great monetary value nor are they necessarily been in the family for generations. As I did with my mom, label the things that mean the most to you with a little story. Some things can have the story attached to them or you can make a document listing things with their story and why they are important. If you make a list, make a hard copy and send an electronic copy to your children, next of kin or someone you trust to keep the document. Include this piece of documents with the larger store of documents for your end of life plan.
End of Life Documents: These are: your wills, health care proxy, power of attorney, health care documents, discharge papers, family history documents, and any plans for end of life memorials – funeral and burial plans or wishes. Tell next of kin, your children or the person who will handle all the end of life details where to find these documents. These documents should be fairly easy to find. Our loved ones might not be in the best frame of mind at the end of our lives, and it would be a great kindness to make these easily accessible and in a logical place.