Reflection is a natural reaction to entering the later years of life. How we have lived and what we’ve done over the years becomes an important part of defining a meaningful life.
Next week, on Thursday April 14th, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) hosts a webinar on exactly that topic. ‘Facilitating a Meaningful Life‘ will focus on the benefits of encouraging senior patients to reminisce on life experiences.
The topics will include tips to facilitate a productive conversation, which requires understanding the individual and their motivation for telling the stories that are important in their life. These tales that we have to tell and the memories that we can offer to others form a part of the legacy we leave behind, making it all the more important to think about how and when we choose to pass them on.
These tales that we have to tell and the memories that we can offer to others form a part of the legacy we leave behind, making it all the more important to think about how and when we choose to pass them on.
Leaving a Legacy
As the name suggests, StoryCorps is an organization that believes in the value of telling tales. The tagline that “Every Story Matters” feeds into its mission of listening to, recording and preserving stories that unite communities and bridge the gaps between generations.
That generational unity is where the organization comes in with regards to hospice and palliative care, aiming to create an archive of important stories that can be accessed by future generations. In terms of living a meaningful life, it gives the storyteller a sense of continuation; that their experiences are valuable to others and that value will remain, even after they pass on.
Perri Chinalai, Associate Director of StoryCorps Legacy and leader of the aforementioned webinar, summarizes the effect like this:
“Sometimes when you are sharing your story and you know that people out there will be listening to it in the future, it brings some validation to all of the life that you have lived.”
Reflecting on the richest moments of life and passing them on to the next generation is a powerful motivator, especially for those facing end-of-life care. It explains why storytelling is one of the forms of therapy recommended by senior health advocates, as we explored in a recent article.
Redefining the Journey of Life
What makes for a meaningful life is one consideration as we grow older. Another is facing up to the limited time we have and making more of the journey. As Jeffrey Kruger wrote in a recent article for TIME magazine:
“The certainty of a journey’s end might make better travelers of us all.”
Understanding that we have finite time for our journey and thinking about the stories we’ll have to tell as that journey draws to a close go hand-in-hand. It helps to frame our activities and decisions, reflecting in the moment on how our older selves would view the choices we’re making and will make in future.
The mission of StoryCorps Legacy is a positive one, from which all caregivers and family members facing limited time with a loved one can learn .
You can register to attend the NHPCO webinar, Facilitating Meaningful Life Review, here.