STERLING, Ill. - “Remember the time when…?” Many family stories and shared memories start with this statement. Shared around the dinner table or at family gatherings, history, recollections, and precious memories are passed down to the next generation. Telling and writing a life story is something that everyone can – and should – do.

“Many people tell me that they don’t have significant life events to share or that there was nothing exceptional about their lives,” says Karla Belzer, family life educator with the University of Illinois Extension. “And I tell them that is simply not true. We all have a story to tell – the many moments of our lives tell the intricate tale of our life experiences, special memories, and everyday moments. Our stories make us who we are. “

Research indicates that life review is a developmental process and a helpful tool to recollect, evaluate, and given meaning to the events in our lives. By sharing our memories of the past, we can develop insight, engage our long-term memory, start family conversations, and even have a laugh. Life story writing also allows an opportunity to leave a legacy for future generations.

“People may believe that their children, grandchildren, other family members or friends simply aren’t interested in hearing stories of the past. Writing our life memories down gives an opportunity for our loved ones to connect with us after we are gone. To hear our voices again and to live our experiences with us. And maybe give them insight into their own lives,” says Belzer. “We may never know the impact of our life story. But we shouldn’t miss the chance to write it down – for others or for ourselves.”

The series features education on how to write a life and participants are provided with the opportunity to write a story each week. Suggested writing topics vary from across the lifespan and participants receive support at encouragement from other class writers in sharing their written piece.    

Weekly sessions of Share Your Life Story: A Writing Series start at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays starting March 17 through April 21. The class will be held at the York Township Public Library in Thomson. The writing series is free and open to the public.  Social distancing, mask, and sanitation procedures will be followed.  

Registration for the series is available at go.illinois.edu/lifestory2. If you will need accommodation in order to participate, please email kbelzer@illinois.edu. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow enough time to meet your access needs.

 

SOURCE: Karla Belzer, Family Life Educator, University of Illinois Extension

WRITER: Karla Belzer, Family Life Educator, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities