35 Questions to Ask to Prompt Memories of a Lost Loved One
When gathering memories for stories to include in a legacy or tribute memory book, it can be helpful to have some prompts. These 35 questions should provide fodder for writing, conversing, and sharing memories about your lost loved one.
Gather your family around the living room with a box of old pictures and a laptop full of digital photos of the person who has died, arm yourself with this list of questions, and let the reminiscing process begin.
Don’t feel self-conscious about using this list as a tool—at the most emotional times in our lives, such as losing someone we care about, any little thing that can help us along the path of grieving is a good thing; be kind to yourself.
How to Get Family Started Reminiscing about Your Lost Loved One
A few initial steps to using question prompts to help you record memories of a lost loved one:
Use a mini audio recorder or the voice recorder app on your phone to capture the conversations about your loved one. Make sure everyone is seated close enough to be captured by the microphone.
Place one copy of the question sheet on a table or other central area, so anyone who wants to glance at the list can do so.
Use the questions to prompt storytelling, but don’t rely on them like a school assignment; rather, go with the natural course of conversation, allowing the group’s memories of your loved one to flow and meander as they will—it’s the memories themselves, not the answers to any questions, that you want to record.
- Realize that you will never get through all of these questions at once, and you are not meant to. Some of them may have no relevance to your experiences with the deceased, and one question may prompt an entire evening of reminiscence—that’s good.
Conversation Starters that Will Provide Stories for a Tribute Book
Introductory questions about the deceased:
- How would you describe the deceased?
- What is your favorite memory of the deceased?
- What did you call them—any nicknames or terms of endearment?
- Did he or she have a pet name for you?
- Is there a particular lesson learned from the deceased?
- How long did you know the deceased?
Questions about the deceased's character:
- What do you think the deceased valued most in life?
- What words would you use to describe his or her character?
- How would you describe the deceased’s personality?
Questions that elicit memories about your lost loved one:
- How did you meet?
- What is a particular time you recall the deceased was especially joyful?
- A time he or she was embarrassed?
- What is your earliest memory of this person?
- What was the deceased’s laugh like?
- Was he or she chronically late or early?
- Do you have any funny stories about times you spent together?
Open-ended questions that allow for storytelling:
- Do you remember any favorite stories about childhood that the deceased loved to tell?
- Do your remember stories he or she would tell about:
- getting married
- becoming a parent
- going to prom
- learning how to drive
- Did the deceased ever discuss big decisions they made that impacted his or her life?
- Were there any major changes to the deceased’s life that affected them in big ways?
- If you knew they could drop by and visit tomorrow, what would your ideal day spent together look like?
Seemingly insignificant or silly questions that may surprise you in where they lead conversationally:
- What was the deceased’s favorite color?
- Favorite flower?
- What type of music did the deceased listen to?
- Was there a piece of clothing or something else the deceased wore that you found characteristic of them?
- Did he or she have a signature saying?
Questions about how the deceased impacted your life:
- How did the deceased impact your life?
- How will you honor the deceased’s memory?
- What do you wish you had said to them before they died?
Preserving Family Stories for the Future
- Need help writing your family's stories? Eliciting memories from family elders, or getting our own down on paper, is not always easy, whether you are a seasoned writer or simply a regular journal keeper. Here are five book recommendations to help your write your family history and life stories.
- Stories are gifts. We've rounded up 10 excellent reasons why sharing your stories is important.
Interested in turning your memories into an heirloom tribute book? That's what we do.
If you have recently lost a loved one, first: our condolences. Our founder, Dawn Roode, was inspired to start Modern Heirloom Books when creating a tribute book for her own mother was healing, and rewarding...we understand the feelings of loss. We truly believe that stories have the power to heal, and that remembering those we have lost helps keep their spirits alive in our hearts.
If you are considering memorializing your loved one's legacy in a book, give us a call. Dawn would love to discuss ways to honor their memory and preserve the stories of their life—for you, and for the next generation.
Contact us now at 917.922.7415 to see how we can work together to create a most meaningful heirloom.