How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

There are all kinds of people who like all kinds of things. You are unique in the world—your family and friends will always remember you that way. Your life story is made up of big events and little details.

What are they?
What are your values?
What are your passions?
Who are you and how do you want to be remembered?

Here are a few creative ideas for documenting your life

Take some time to write

Take the time to write down some of your best-loved memories and hard-won lessons. Write letters to loved ones and send them now. Keep a journal to share later—there are many journaling tools to help you get started, from physical books to digital options.

Make videos of yourself

Make videos of yourself talking about the things that have given your life meaning and purpose. Save them to a private YouTube account, forward them to a family member or load them to the cloud.

Record silly sentiments

Record silly sentiments, private messages or words of wisdom with an audio recorder or app on your phone. Most smartphones come with an app preinstalled, including Voice Memos on iPhones or Voice Recorder on Android devices.

Gather your photos

Gather your photos and caption them, noting not just when and where they were taken but also the names and ages of people in the photos or something else you can remember about the moment they were taken. It's fine to just stash them in a shoebox, but if you're crafty, consider making a scrapbook or digital photo album. You can create memory books to give to family around the holidays or share photos on social media with a story.

Create a playlist of favorite songs on your smartphone, especially those tied to memories like your wedding day, the birth of a child, the year you learned to drive a car. Include everything from religious hymns to rock ballads. Free apps like Spotify, Pandora and even YouTube make it easy.

Dig deeper before you dive in

Employ a service such as StoryWorth to help you compile memories and create a bound book to give to family members.

Create a family tree

Create a family tree. A visual record of your ancestry, a family tree lets you see how the people in your life fit together. You can simply start with the family tree template in Microsoft Excel or you can get a little more sophisticated (and have a little more fun) with a family tree app. Many of the big genealogy sites have free apps with an easy-to-use family tree function. To get started, you'll want to reach out to your relatives—the older the better.

Draft your obituary

Draft your obituary. It doesn't have to be a morbid exercise. In fact, it can be rewarding to think about the funny details for which you'd like to be remembered and weave them into a short story of your life. An outline can help you get started.

The way you choose to document your life is up to you. No matter what you do, your loved ones are sure to hold every note and picture dear—even your handwriting will be a cherished memory.

Make your wishes known
to those you love

Your service and cemetery memorialization are a part of your legacy. They should reflect your one-of-a-kind spirit, personality and history.

Your service may be a traditional funeral or a celebration of life. It may be simple or grand. But no matter what shape it takes, where it's held or how long it lasts, it's a meaningful event for family and friends, giving them time to reflect on the good times and the details that made you special.

people toasting in celebration of remembrance at a picnic table outdoors at night

You may have a clear idea of what your service should look like. Some people are very prescriptive, right down to the color of the flowers, the position of the sun and what guests should wear.

Others have fewer preferences, expressing only a general idea that they'd like a simple outdoor service or a party as grand as the town has ever seen.

When it comes to cemetery property, the many options include mausoleum entombment and family estates for burial and niches and scattering gardens for cremation. If you choose cremation, perhaps you'd rather your family keep your urn at home or send your ashes into space. When you plan ahead, the choice is yours.

And the best way to make your wishes known is to write them down.

Just as documenting your story tells your family about your proudest day or most cherished moment, documenting your end-of-life wishes tells them how you'd like them to gather and remember you and the impact you've made on their lives, as well as how you'd like to be memorialized.