During our final family vacation to Cape May, I sat down to record some of my Mom’s personal history – her travels, education and childhood stories – but quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be possible. Alzheimer’s Disease had already stolen much of her memory and was making Mom uncomfortable with the conversation.
Mom’s dreadful journey with Alzheimer’s Disease ended two months ago, but as she would have liked, we wanted to make something positive from the experience. We decided to build MemLife to preserve our own stories, help us capture some of Mom’s life stories by collaborating with family and friends and to convince others that this can be a simple, personal and meaningful process. Our family aims to rebuild Mom’s story by collaborating on MemLife and we’re making sure the app is easy for everyone to create a life story and/or memorialize any loved one.
These days, our personal digital lives have become the news of the day – but the more meaningful stories and the stories of those that came before us, our parents and grandparents, are largely lost. According to Aaron Holt, of the National Archives and Records Administration, “family history fades in just three generations”. Stories are shared between generations, but when it comes recording or retelling these stories, the details and historical accounts are often lost. For families that have preserved a written and photographic record of their history, they are holding pure treasure that future generations will enjoy and benefit from.
Reasons to start writing down life stories:
- To record a legacy or maintain a family history
- Capture the life of a loved one who passed on
- Reflect on life and record the great and challenging stories of our past
- Proving to future generations (and our kids) that we had a life
- Consider starting with just 5-10 minutes per day
- Jot it down! The goal is to write, remember and reflect. There’s no need to make it perfect – you can do that later.
- As you start to get into it, forgotten or neglected memories will likely come back to you more freely. When they do, grab your phone, open up MemLife and write down a title and some notes.
- You’ll be surprised – you can create a 40+ page Life Book with just a handful of hours over the next few weeks.
- Don’t feel like you have to start writing a book. Start from one memory, photo or use one of our memory triggering questions.
- Keep it brief and don’t burn the midnight oil right from the start.
- When you’re ready, create a free Life Book with the push of a button!
We’d like to encourage everyone to get started now on their own life stories. Whether it’s with a pen and paper, or an app, even just a few minutes a day or a couple hours a week is time well spent. Future generations will be able to look back on your life and your kids and grandkids will learn more about who they are. Our hope is that MemLife makes it easy for individuals and families to start recording their own personal and family treasures – simply, privately and free.
More Info, Links & Reading:
Writing your life story, or writing one for a loved one who no longer can, is a meaningful and reward process with real health benefits. For more on that, read our footnoted article “5 Amazing Benefits of Writing a Life Story Journal”.
MemLife is available for iOS, Android and desktop – it’s private and free. Our dual purpose mission is to help people get their stories down before it’s too late and to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease. We’re currently looking for feedback as well as sponsors and financial support to continue our mission. If your company or corporate values align with ours – let’s talk!
Gary G. Schempp
I signed up recently and trying out the app to have a place to record past events as I recall them. So far so good.
For a work around, I had to backdate my birthday 100 years to be able to record events prior to my birthday. Is there another way?
Thank you, Gary G. Schempp