Why Write a Commemorative Biography?
When someone close to us passes away, we are often left with a question that can be overwhelming to face: what now? How do we live with the memory of this person? How do we share this memory? How do we preserve it? The past is what shapes us, and remembering those we have loved and lost is an important part of living mindfully and building future relationships. Though there are a number of different ways through which one can preserve memories– photographs, memorial services, and other acts of remembrance– the writing of commemorative biographies is a practice that can be both deeply personal, as well as highly informative for future generations.
Why Collect Records?
In addition to having therapeutic emotional and mental benefits, writing down the life story of a loved one has a number of practical benefits as well. For example, by contributing to genealogical records, you are contributing to accessible records which may aid future generations in garnering a better understanding of their family history and relationships, as well as the development of their communities.
Unlike in the past when records such as these were often difficult to access as they existed in hard copy in specific locations, online access to genealogical records has increasingly become the norm. Just as grieving in the “digital age” has dramatically changed the ways in which grief is expressed as engaged with (via online grief support forums, for example), the ways in which the lives of those we lose are documented and preserved has also adapted. Our sister site Keeper, provides online memorials that are exemplary of this, as they provide an online platform which can be personalized for recording and preserving the life stories of loved ones.
With Keeper’s memorial pages, you can record as much or as little personal information as you choose about those who have passed away; providing space to include all basic information about the individual (place of birth, occupation, family tree, etc.), as well as offering the opportunity to share personal memories and anecdotes, upload pictures, videos, and write tribute messages. These kinds of biographical pages are both invaluable sources of information, as well as personal spaces for sharing memories and working through grief.
Top 3 Biography Writing Tips
- Draw information from everyone around you: Writing the life of someone is not something that can be done completely by a single person. It is important when writing a commemorative biography to speak to others who were close to the deceased. This includes family members, close friends, coworkers: anyone who spent time with the person who you have lost. By speaking to as many people as possible and noting how they perceived that person as well as stories of times they shared will lend itself to the development of a much richer biography.
- Gather as many documents as you can: Gather marriage records, old photographs and videos, letters, citizenship documents, birth and death certificates- any documentation that speaks to aspects of the deceased’s life. These kinds of physical pieces of documentation are important for reference when writing a biography, and also can be scanned and added to any digital profile you are creating.
- Remember the “Big 4”: When writing a biography, there are four main things you should keep an eye out for, and should try your best to include- Names, Places, Dates, and Events. When trying to write down someone’s life story, the amount of information you are presented with can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to decide what to include, and what can be left out. These four things will act as the framework for the biography you write, and will give you a sense of what is important to include and what isn’t.
- Collect more than just records: We all have drawers full of photographs and chances are our family members do as well! On a recent trip to visit family, one Qeepr team member found a stack of photos of their great-grandparents from the late 1800s. You can make the hunt for genealogical records that much more exciting by searching for family photos and digitizing them for everyone to enjoy.