Saving Family Stories – Now and Into the Future


Family Stories: Why We Tell Them

by | Jan 30, 2016 | Blog

family stories

What family stories will you pass on?

WHAT IF I told you you could change a child’s life by sharing your family stories?

Would it move you into action?

Would it inspire you to start documenting that which you know about your own life, and the people who came before you?

Why Would You?

Sometimes when I talk to people about life legacy storytelling, the question comes up; why should I share my family stories? As a part of our human make-up, we often don’t know or understand the value of something until it’s gone. In the instance of family stories, “too late” happens all the time. Often because a storyteller is no longer able to impart the tales they’d been spinning and telling anyone who would listen over the years. They pass away or become ill in such a way they’re no longer able to communicate.

Those precious gems that are their stories, forever lost.

Where Do You Start?

How does one go about this activity of documenting family stories? What’s the best medium? When is the best time?

I’ll tell you. Right now.

The beauty of documenting family stories to be shared now, or one day in the future, is that as our children grow and mature, they develop a listening and a context in which they hear our stories in a way they may not be available for when we ourselves are inspired to tell them!

When I was seventeen years old, my mom could have told about me the struggles of raising two kids on her own, working hard at a temporary job she was uncertain she’d have in a month, and how scary that was for her. At seventeen, I would most likely have no idea what she was talking about. No frame of reference to be able to relate to her story.

Hearing that story again, at 35, after having raised a child myself, and having experienced uncertainty in my professional life, it generates an entirely different context for my listening and a new understanding who my mom was when I was growing up. With my own maturing, I could now see how resilient and committed she was to make sure her children had what they needed to get along in this world. I can know her, love her, and admire her in a whole new light.

Getting Help

The people who hire me to help document their family stories have quite often experienced some kind of lost opportunity to record a loved ones’ stories. That original storyteller may be gone, and my client knows they may still capture and share their family stories from those still here, who are able to communicate.

Recent happiness research has proved children who know their family’s narrative are happier and more resilient than children who don’t.

We owe it to our future generations to document their family stories.

Building Foundations

Our children look to us for guidance, learning, hope and security. For the whole of their lives. As they themselves grow into adulthood, they long to know who we really were at their same age. What greater gift than to give them ourselves, to let them know us and have us, when they’re ready to know, when they are available to receive and understand all that we are always offering? To give them the support they need, when they need it most.

Your Greatest Gift

My friend Elizabeth, whom I recorded a video biography with in 2012, is further expanding her collection of stories. She has embarked on a journey called, “My Life In Paragraphs” to tell more stories, on at at a time.

You might consider using the video storytelling app StoryCatcher®, and create a collection of vignette videos telling about your experiences, lessons, values, and hopes. You may feel most comfortable expressing yourself in writing or via an audio only format, which can easily be done any time, any where using a smart phone.

Share when you’re inspired to. Create a little collection, allow it to grow into a big one. Do it on your own or consult a professional for help and guidance.

It’s the greatest gift you will ever leave.

I promise you that.

Live & Online Retreats

Join me in engaging retreat experiences to discover your legacy stories, one paragraph at a time. Learn more about My Life in Paragraphs.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpoose to you life.  Get your cards now.

StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.

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