When we think of what we’ll leave behind after we die, most of us will think about the physical possessions we’ll give to our loved ones. Our houses, furniture or collection of cabbage patch dolls (if that’s your thing). But, we leave far more than that behind in our stories.
How so? Because after death, it is our stories that remain. We build up a picture of ourselves which will remain long after we do by the stories we tell to those we love. We also have pictures built for us by the stories that are told about us after we’ve gone. These stories allow others to make sense of who we are, what we did and how we lived our lives.
How storytelling has evolved
Since we started walking on two legs, a lot has changed. We’ve moved from mud-huts to mansions, from smoke signals to whatsapps.
We started off telling stories by sitting around campfires, and recording them through cave paintings. This moved onto the written word, writing down our tales for generations to come. Next, radio and TV allowed us to spread stories even further. And now, in this digital world we have e-books, Podcasts, Youtube and social media to share our messages with the world.
Whilst our delivery of tales may have changed, the way we use them to tell our history and to understand the world hasn’t. Stories allow us to make sense of our world. They’ve kept us alive and they’ve told our history in more detail than facts and figures ever could.
How stories define us
Each decision we make, everything we love, loathe or fear becomes part of our story. First kisses, famous dishes we make, the escapades of childhood and our teenage years. These stories are what live of us in other people’s minds.
Through telling and re-telling, these stories become legends. Legends that entertain and educate future generations. I never met my great-grandad but I know he was in the Navy with Prince Charles thanks to the stories I’ve been told and the pictures I’ve been shown.
How stories live on once we’ve died
It’s this rich telling of history that help those that come after remember who we were and what we did. Wakes tend to be filled with people reminiscing through memories of stories involving the deceased.
Take the grandchild who never knew their nanna when she was young. They’re still able to have a picture in their mind of what she was like through the stories that she told and that are told about her.
Keeping our stories safe
The good news? Stories can’t be taxed and there’s no limit of how many we can pass on to the generations below. The only limit is how many we can make and tell in our lifetime.
So think about the stories you have in your head, and make a plan for how to pass these on. Whether it’s pen or paper, blogs or video diaries – there will be a way to allow your stories to be enjoyed for many years to come.
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