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Memoir or Memory Book?
Should you create a custom memory book? When we lose a loved one, our memories and any treasured items are the only precious things that we have left to remember them. You may be thinking about writing the story of their life so that the important moments and special memories are not forgotten. And you may want to preserve your family tree and family history as well.
While writing a memoir is a great idea, it may not be for everyone. A memory book is another option to help remember your loved one and the treasured times that you spent together. This article is a guide for leaving your legacy or preserving the legacy of your loved one. Let’s look at how to create a memory book, plus some custom memory book ideas.
Events, People, and Places to Include in a Memory Book
With so many aspects to a person’s life—some of which you may know, and others you may not—it may be difficult to narrow your focus. You certainly don’t need to create a novel, but you also want to include enough so that your loved one is fully represented.
While you may be creating a tribute book to remember a deceased love one, there are also other purposes in creating a memory book. You may want to commemorate a special occasion, with a birthday gift, wedding or anniversary. Or you may want to create a memory book to aid someone who is suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. You may want to give away copies of the memory book to your parents as a Mother’s Day gift or Father’s Day gift or to attendees at your loved one’s funeral, memorial service or life celebration. Or you may want the memory book to serve as a piece of history left behind for future generations.
As you determine the purpose of your memory book, you’ll also want to start thinking about what to include in it. So, the first thing you may want to do is to decide on a theme. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Special occasions
- Trips & vacations
- Hobbies / pastimes
- Religion / faith
- Chronological history
- Work / career
- Baby memory book
- Pre-school years
- Grade school year
- High school years
- College years
- Adult years
- And more!
Creating a Well-Rounded Memory Book
If you only tell the story of a portion of a person’s life, are you really representing their life as it was? When thinking about life events, the good always comes with the bad… the positive with the negative… the easy and the difficult… the joy and the sorrow… the funny and the sad. All of these normal aspects of life add to the richness of a human being and a life well lived.
So, while you’re sorting through what to include in a memory book, be sure to make it balanced… tell the whole story. At the same time, keep yourself in check. Ask yourself if your loved one would want something included in the story or not. If they would be embarrassed or hurt to have something revealed, then it’d best to respect their wishes.
In addition, keep in mind that you don’t need to only focus on the big events in life. Writing about humor, sad times, and happy times can be equally therapeutic. Many of the little things, precious moments, or family memories can say a lot about a person and what they meant to others. So, be sure to include some of the little things along with the big things.
Who Will Be the Story Teller?
This is probably the biggest question people forget to ask until they sit down and start writing for a life story book. Will your voice or someone else’s serve as the narrator of your loved one’s life? Or will you take the time to tell the story from as close to their point of view as possible? If your loved one is still alive, then you have a wonderful opportunity to include them in the making of your memory book. Take the time to capture their life from their eyes while you can. Then you can fill in the rest later with accounts of your own and stories from friends, co-workers, and relatives.
Keeping Track of Memories
Whether you are starting a memory book for someone who has already passed away or if you are starting a project ahead of time, you’ll want to stay as organized as possible. Designate a box for collecting items, pictures, keepsakes, and other objects that will go into your memory book. You may want to go a step further and keep the items in the box grouped according to your theme. For example, you may want to have folders for each year or each decade. Or you may want to keep folders by subject matter: childhood, parenthood, working years, retirement, etc. Your theme will probably determine the method of organization.
We encourage you to be as creative as possible when making your memory book. Here are some ideas of items to include in your memory book.
- Photo, photo book or photo album
- Achievements / awards
- Crafts / art
- Poetry, scripture, lyrics
- Photos of larger items
- Scrapbook albums
- Anything that represents your loved one
Another option is to keep a daily or weekly journal to record your memories throughout the year. A journal will help you stay motivated to write your memories when they are still fresh in your mind. You can devote a certain amount of time per day or week or write at a favorite time of day to stay on track with completing your project.
Going Digital: The Advantages of a Digital Memory Book
When creating a memory book, many people stop at creating just the one book. You can take it a step further and make copies for friends and family members so they, too, can enjoy the fruits of your labor by remembering your loved one in a special way.
If you decide to stop at having one or more physical copies of your memory book, you’ll want to ensure that you preserve their integrity. Be sure to keep your memory book in a clean, climate-controlled environment. Exposing your memory book to too much heat, sunlight, dust or moisture can cause the book and the items in it to fade, warp or become dirty or brittle. Pages can also become stuck together or fall out. So, take the time to protect your memory book as you would any other heirloom.
The next step would be preserving your memory book online. A digital memory book offers the opportunity to permanently pay tribute to your loved one. There’s no worry about losing the wonderful creation of a memory book to a natural disaster, by theft or by other means. An online version of your memory book can be complete with photos, videos, and audio recordings. You don’t have to worry about space. And you don’t have to ever worry about losing or misplacing your creation.
No matter which path you choose, preserving your family history and the memory of a loved one is important. We wish you all the best on your creative journey!