New way to share family stories with those you leave behind or rarely see
PUBLISHED: 14:34 08 October 2014 | UPDATED: 14:34 08 October 2014
How will your children remember you when you're gone? Chené Koscielny discovers a new way of sharing family stories with those you leave behind or rarely see
If, God forbid, a bus strikes you down tomorrow – and before you snort too loudly, it’s not as unlikely as you think, how would you be remembered?
In my case it would be an embarrassing video of a quite drunk 21-year-old version of myself belting out Eternal Flame by the Bangles on a public stage, photographs of me in a school yearbook sporting an alarmingly wild perm and a collection of un-cool shoes and handbags.
Seriously though, have you ever asked yourself how your loved ones will remember you? According to Government statistics over 10% of women and 20% of men will die before they turn 65, so it’s not an idle thought to have.
Will your children or grandchildren remember your voice, your laugh, your words of advice about life, the things that make you, you?
Have you told them about your first love, do they know your favourite movie of all time and the wackiest thing you’d ever done? What will your emotional legacy be?
These are the questions that prompted mother-of-three Joanna Helin, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, to create Lifestorybank – a new online memory bank designed to make it easy for parents or grandparents to leave memories of themselves, advice and cherished stories for their children and grandchildren when they can’t be around.
Joanna was inspired to come up with Lifestorybank after losing her own mum to a brain tumour when she was 26. She was left with a deep emotional void, which became even more acute when she became a mother herself.
“While mum was ill, the denial, sadness and trauma I was going through, prevented me from asking the questions I now wish I’d asked,” says Joanna.
“I had so many unanswered questions about all sorts of things, from pregnancy and childbirth, to school and personal history. Things I never thought of asking Mum when she was alive because I was not ready to, I was not at that stage of my life. I also wish I had more to remember Mum by and that there was a way my children could know their grandmother – other than a few grainy videos,” she says.
Because of her own sense of loss, Joanna started searching for a way for parents to store information about themselves – to ensure that every child has a chance to get to know more about their parents or grandparents and has access to loving advice from them, even when the person is not around.
The service has proved very popular with parents and grandparents so far and has also found interest among an unanticipated audience – divorced and estranged dads, who use it to stay in touch with children, who don’t live with them – in a personal and private way.
“This is not something we planned, but it makes perfect sense and we’re happy to be able to make a different to these dads’ lives,” says Joanna.
Britain has the highest proportion of fatherless families (two million) of any major European country, and one in three children – nearly four million in total – live without their fathers, according to the Office of National Statistics. Of those children who don’t live with their fathers, one in three will lose contact with their dad permanently.
Lifestorybank is made up of a series of video clips recorded using a webcam. You are asked questions about your life and family by a computer-generated interviewer and the answers are video recorded and stored online indefinitely as an emotional legacy.
The questions are organised into chapters covering a wide range of topics, such as school, family, first job, love life and advice. It’s available 24 hours a day, is completely private and secure, and can be done in the comfort of the home.
“If Lifestorybank had existed when Mum died, I would have had so much more from her now and would have been able to share her memories with her granddaughters in a much more powerful way,” says Joanna.
Basic membership to Lifestorybank is free, which includes three chapters of over 20 questions. Full membership costs a one off fee of £90 and includes 30 chapters.