Living Columns & Blogs

Remember, share your family stories during National Family History Month

When my grandmother was a young woman, she came from Kansas to Milroy, Pennsylvania, to visit a college friend. One day during her visit, she went shopping at a grocery store and met a young gentleman. The two of them began talking and it was love at first sight. The complicating factor was my grandmother was already engaged to another man. In the end, she listened to her heart and made what I’m sure were difficult decisions. Three months later, she and my grandfather were married and they began their life together.

This is a story all of the generations in my family know. And it sends messages: it’s important to listen to your heart; sometimes you have to make difficult choices; and love at first sight is possible — it happened for my parents and my husband and me too, but those are other stories.

Family stories are important. One study found that for baby boomers and their parents, passing on family stories was more important than inheritances or material possessions. Another found that kids who knew family stories were more resilient and had higher self-esteem, lower anxiety levels, fewer behavioral problems and better functioning families.

October is National Family History Month, a time to learn about family stories and to honor legacies. Every time we tell the story of my grandparents’ meeting, we honor their legacies and they are alive to us. As author Doug Manning once said, “No one is dead until they are forgotten ...”

There are countless ways to honor legacies and tell family stories. In addition to the opportunities during National Family History Month, in November we’ll have even more ways for you to get involved in recognition of Time for Family, Time for Talk, including:

  • Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon — “Conversations Count: Time for Family, Time for Talk,” Monday, Nov. 5 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College. After losing a loved one, you remember special conversations you had. At this gathering, we’ll talk about these conversations and share tools to help you continue to have them with other loved ones. RSVP at 404-0546, Jackie@JackieHook.com or on the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page by Oct. 31.
  • Adult Children of Aging Parents (ACAP) — “Have the Talk of a Lifetime,” Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5:30-7 p.m. at Best Western Plus University Park Inn and Suites, 115 Premiere Drive, State College. Learn how to have meaningful conversations with your loved ones about life and the things that matter most, plus leave with tools to help.

These events are open to the public. For additional information, please visit the Koch Funeral Home website’s Monday’s Moments Gatherings and Events page.

Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director and celebrant. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.
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