From almost the day after I was widowed, I’ve been reading memoirs. Other widows kept me company with their stories. Over the years since then, I have ventured into memoirs on writing, empty nesting, aging, different losses, other challenging experiences.
Memoirs are different than reading biographies. Rather than learning about the trajectory of an entire lifetime, memoirs are a peek into one event. That event may last a day or may happen over years — the story spans however long the event took to play out in someone’s life. Memoirs let you experience that event through the eyes of a completely different person and see how it reflects on your own experiences.
Memoirs as Shared Experiences
If your someone has been feeling alone or misunderstood, then a memoir could be a “friend” who has a shared experience. Your someone may be convinced that surely there is no one out there who has struggled through their same difficulties. And most importantly of all,
Surely there is no one who has made it through to the other side?
At the very least, however crazy the story, a memoir says, I’ve made it. You can, too.
Memoirs as a Project
Many times when someone is seriously ill or struggling, she may wish others understood better what her life has really been like. Or he may be afraid that all of his family memories are going to be forgotten after he’s gone.
Writing a memoir, even a simple one intended for a home printer and a family audience, can be a project that keeps someone busy and accomplishes something on their personal bucket list. And reading a few can help spark ideas.
Memoirs to Guide You
You might consider reading a few memoirs, yourself, when you are hoping to reach out to someone going through hard times. Getting into the mindset of someone else can give you insight, and spending more time in that world through memoirs may release a lot of awkwardness and fear through familiarity.
Memoirs as a Gift or Service
You could spend an afternoon at a library or bookstore, with or without your someone, looking for the right story to share, or several to try out. Memoirs tend to be shelved alongside autobiographies, but the titles may reveal that the book has a particular focus — which may be just what your someone is experiencing or something very different but equally intense.
In an effort to shorten my blog posts, I’ll wait to share some examples in my next blog.
Blog #24, COMMENT BELOW: Please share any memoirs that might bless someone in a particular situation.
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