Family is the most important connection that humans have with one another. It’s likely that you have some wonderful memories from your family life that could bring some joy, meaning, entertainment, or insight of others. And you can be certain that other members of your family – both today, and in the past – have these sorts of stories, too, and it’s important you do what you can to remember, preserve, and pass these stories on.
Stories can easily be passed down in a family for generations, if not for centuries. But only if each generation takes them seriously, remembers them, and puts in the effort of retelling them to their children, and then their children’s children…
While not all family members are wonderful – family also comes with stress or conflict – family therapy can help make sure that family stories are passed on from one generation to the next. Here are a few reasons why it’s critically important to pass on your family stories:
Because if not actively passed on, they will die off and be lost
If certain stories are well known in your generation of the family, or if the people who the stories originally belong to are still around, it can be all too easy to feel complacent about actually passing them on at all.
That’s because it doesn’t feel as though there’s any real risk of them being lost.
The reality, though, is that sooner or later, if stories are not actively passed on, they will die off and be forgotten and irretrievable. And as time moves on, more and more incredible and unique tales do indeed fade away.
Ask yourself, how many WW2 veterans are still alive? Once there were millions, today there are hardly any, and in a few short years there’ll be none.
For anyone to remember the tales those veterans had carried with them, the stories have to be proactively sought out and retold.
Because old stories often contain powerful lessons
One of the great things about stories – and probably one of the reasons why human beings, as a rule, cherish stories so much – is because stories (especially older ones) often contain powerful lessons.
The amusing anecdotes of your parents or grandparents may not seem super-profound all the time. But you can be sure that, if looked at carefully enough, those tales will often include important lessons about things to do, and things not to do.
The kinds of lessons that are found in stories are often “implied” and, in one sense, “unspoken.” But, when conveyed in stories, we nonetheless learn them all the same.
A lifetime of experiences is nothing to turn your nose up at. And old stories are often more meaningful than they first appear.
Because stories are a major part of what connects us to those who have gone before
We all like to think that we will be remembered forever – or at least, for a long time – by our descendants, and the people who we are close to today.
Ultimately, to be “remembered” largely means having our stories remembered.
It’s one thing if you know what your great-great-grandfather looked like, or what his favorite flavor of ice cream was. But it’s the specific stories of his everyday pastimes, adventures, and mishaps, that actually connect you with him across the generations.
Remembering and telling the stories of a beloved relative is essentially how you keep their memory alive.