Imagine standing in the middle of a huge cemetery. What do you see as you gaze at the view that surrounds you? Rows of tombstones? A sea of names? Dates inscribed long ago? I see something different. I see thousands of stories never told. I see wisdom and life lessons never shared. Beneath every tombstone, I see stories the deceased never thought were worth sharing.
I believe people die. Stories don’t.
I initially discovered this unusual sixth sense when I interviewed Holocaust survivors for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in the late 1990s. This feeling has been reinforced hundreds of times since 2006 when I started my business, LifeStories Alive, recording the living stories of moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas for their families.
My grandfather and father died within two months of one another many years ago…their stories buried with them. Oh, sure, I remember some of the stories they used to tell. But forever gone is the sound of their voices, the expressions on their faces as they told the stories and, tragically, the stories untold.
Those stories I never knew: those lessons learned from the mistakes and successes throughout their lives. My guess is that you have experienced the same thing.
If you haven’t yet, sadly, you will.
That is why I started my business, LifeStories Alive in 2006. I didn’t want anyone else to experience the pain I felt at the funerals of my father and grandfather, realizing their stories were lost forever.
I capture living stories. A living story is a personal accounting of the influential, essential and powerful tales that have shaped a human life, told by their originator. Seeing the facial expressions, hearing the voice and, thus, feeling the story as the story originator tells it sparks the emotions of the viewer in heartfelt ways. I interview your story originator, either the family member or founder, then integrate artifacts and deliver a documentary film.
Realizing in late 2015 that I cannot be in all places for all people, I started writing a book. A Conversation You’ll Never Forget – A Guide to Capturing a LifeStory (published in 2017) was written for people who want to record the stories of loved ones themselves.
I dream of the day when I can stand in the middle of a similar cemetery, look around me, and smile, knowing that each tombstone represents hundreds of living stories captured forever and many generations of families better, safer and richer because someone cared enough about them to keep a life story alive.
Yes, the people we love are going to die. But their stories don’t have to – that is a choice. That choice is yours.
Founder, LifeStories Alive