Monday, 17 June 2013 20:18

What Genealogy Has Taught Me About Death

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 Child's grave genealogy family tradition family history



Photo courtesy of: Grave of an infant in Horton, Northhamptonshire.


As a professional genealogist, I deal with death all the time. Looking for someone’s death date, place of death and any circumstances of death is a common practice. Always hoping that this death information will lead us to other family member’s information and of course details about the person we searching for life and personal history.



A week ago, my father died. As a daughter, I grieved, as I adored my dad – he was the best! After the funeral, I was assisting my mother with the papers and estate details. As a genealogist and as a family historian I looked at the information with practiced eyes. I knew that the personal letters dad had saved in an old cardboard box needed to be properly preserved and curated so that future generations would be able to read the letters he received from his mother while he was in the Air Force. As a daughter, I realized that my mom wasn’t ready to share the letters she wrote while they were engaged during that time. They will be preserved, scanned and curated when she is ready. In the mean time they are moved to an acid free container, ready for her when she is.

As a genealogist I worried about the plans for mom to be buried in the same plot as my father in the military cemetery. The headstones had the serviceman’s name on it, but I didn’t see the wife’s information recorded on it. I wanted to check into this further, but recognized that as a daughter another day and time would be more appropriate. could wait.

Old Grave Stone family history genealogy family traditionA few days after my father’s death, his newest great grandchild was born, reconfirming that life goes on. A new leaf is added to the tree, another date is added to an existing one. Life and death, the cycle continues.

As family historians recording the dates that someone entered and left this world is just part of the story. It is the opening line and the final comma – the real life, the real story is what lies between. Don’t wait to begin to write and share your loved ones and your own story. Living a good life is an art - recording it is a legacy.

Have you lost someone close to you? Is there a tradition or unique way you commemorate the life of the person? (Taken from Loss story starter)


Last modified on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 21:48
Valerie Elkins

Vlaerie is the CEO and founder of Advantage Genealogy and serves on the Board of Directors for both Story @ Home and for the Utah Genealogical Association. She utilizes her experience to blend research and technology with the art of storytelling, to help make the past come alive. Valerie believes that every family has an amazing family history full of stories of love and loss, guts and glory, victory and deafeat... along with a few skeletons in the closet. Finding those stories and learning to dance with them is her passion. Valerie is a Pinterest "pinja" and a blogger at Family Cherished. You can find Valerie on Twitter @elkinsvalerie.

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