If you died tomorrow, what would your baby know about you?
Posted April 14, 2016
To say I was humiliated would not be an exaggeration. There it was -- open for my husband and I to see; the evidence scrawled flirtatiously in glittery pink gel pen: two pages of girly notes chronicling my middle school crushes smack in the middle of my 12-year-old journal.
And to top it all off sat the pink glittery ChapStick kiss outline on the page. I cringed then. I’m cringing worse now.
I had forgotten about my middle school journals and the silly things pre-teen girls write about.
At one point, I had actually wanted to get rid of those two pages and a couple others because I was embarrassed about the silly things I had written. But my wise husband encouraged me not to. “You can’t censor your past, 13-year-old self,” he said. And it was good advice.
It’s probably natural for us to, at some level, feel slightly invincible. I don’t think many of us walk around constantly contemplating the fact that any moment could be our last.
But what if it was?
If you died tomorrow, what would your new baby, your children, your husband or your family members really know about you? What would you want them to know and understand about you?
Here are a few easy ways to tell your loved ones about your life:
Decide what you want them to know
In case you aren’t there to explain things to your children or loved ones one day, think about the most important things you want them to know. Jot down a quick list for yourself and begin there. You may want to start by simply writing out answers to some of these questions.
In the “iPhone” age, almost everything we do is recorded. Have you ever contemplated how much of your day is cataloged? Texting, social media posts, email or even comments on an online article – if you really think about it, we’re already spending a lot of hours every day recording our lives. So make it work for you!
“Copy and paste journaling”
I signed up years ago for jrnl.com and I use it constantly. About half the time the entries I make are copied and pasted from somewhere else I’ve already recorded something, versus an original entry. I love that I can preserve my personal history this way, even if I don’t have time to write an original journal entry.
Saving a Word document on your computer would work just as well as an online journaling source.
A few things I “copy and paste journal” from include:
1. Notable texts
A particularly sweet message from my husband, a family chain about a problem to be solved or an extra funny comment from text messages are sometimes the most enlightening and revealing content to add to your personal history.
2. My to-do list
I don’t add everything from my to-do list in my journal, but I do try to make note of any that might be noteworthy or show history. You’d be surprised at how looking back at old “to-do’s” can map your life. It may sound worthless, but think about how priceless a detailed to-do list from your ancestor in the early 1800s would be to you.
3. Facebook posts
I don’t journal everything I post on Facebook, but if I share a notable part of my life, a particularly funny moment from my day or a belief about something on Facebook, I save myself the trouble of needing to rewrite it and simply copy and paste into my online journal.
There are many sources for preserving your Instagram feed. My favorite is Chatbooks, which is a printing service that will, for a small fee, automatically print books of your photos as your Instagram feed grows. You are able to edit, delete and customize everything beforehand. You can chronicle so much history from online photo posting! I already love my little Chatbook library chronicling our history.
Save greeting cards
I went through a period where I threw Christmas, birthday and other types of cards away, because storing them over the years stressed me out. But now I regret it! Then I found a way to easily store old cards to take up little space and be accessible: key rings! Simply get a single-hole punch tool, a couple key rings, and hole punch away! The cards take up little room on your shelf and when you do want to go check them out, they all flip easily on your key rings. This also makes it easy to add and take away. For important letters I send myself, I try to make a photo copy to keep in my “card ring” as well.
My friend recently introduced me to the idea of smash book and I love it! The basic idea is that you buy some type of (medium to large) notebook or journal, and paste objects you’d like to save in the book. Then “smash” the notebook to condense it. As I was putting my smash book together, I realized that I already had some perfect “smash book” candidates around my house. Random photos I’d hung onto, small notes, mementos, print outs from my Instagram account, foreign coins and more. It was easy to simply tape in those random, treasured mementos I already had in my house but had no place to put before.
The idea of writing memoirs or detailed journals or scrapbooks can be overwhelming. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is to leave the information behind that is most important to you. So simply taking a few pieces of paper and jotting down a bulleted list of “things I want you to know,” or “things I believe,” or even a list of your history may one day be an invaluable, irreplaceable treasure to your loved ones.
Livi Whitaker is a freelance writer and has contributed to publications such as Deseret News, KSL.com, Family Share, lds.org, Family Search and more in both news, print and as a columnist since 2010