Want to Help Others Get through Tough Times? Share Family Stories with Them!

December 15, 2020  - by 
women sitting on couch together talking

Since you are reading this blog, I am guessing you love your ancestors and have experienced the thrill of discovering new information about them. But has knowing your ancestors’ stories also helped you get through a tough time in your life?

If so, you are not alone. Studies show that knowing our family narrative and feeling connected to those who have gone before us can help us weather challenges and bounce back after defeats. Many people have gained strength or at least perspective just by knowing their ancestors also made it through tough times.

Who do you know that could use a lift in these uncertain times? Is a friend struggling to remain optimistic? Has this friend suffered a blow emotionally, physically, or economically? If you have been strengthened by connecting with your ancestors, then you know that others can benefit from the same thing.

How to Do It

Lifting someone else with family stories couldn’t be simpler. Begin by finding a friend and starting a conversation. If it helps, ask a question about the friend’s family, something like one of these:

  • Which of your ancestors do you feel closest to and why?
  • Which of your ancestors has influenced you the most and how?
  • Which of your ancestors are you most like? In what ways are you similar?
  • Do you have a special keepsake or artifact from an ancestor that you treasure?
  • Which of your ancestors would you most like to meet?
teenage boys walking outside

Let the conversation go where it will. Your only job is to listen—with your ears, yes, but also with your heart. Your conversation should feel natural and joyful—like swapping recipes or sports stories—only with a little more emotion.

Take Your Help to the Next Level

While talking to your friend, you may hear something like “I wish I knew more—” or “It would be nice if there was a way to find out—” These comments are great opportunities to ask your friend if he or she would like your help to learn more about family history. Most of the time the answer will be “yes.”

Family history may feel like second nature to you, but there are still a lot of people who know very little about their ancestors and who have never felt the exhilaration of making new family discoveries. Can you imagine how amazed they would be by the things you can tell them about their family?

Picture introducing your friends to a great-grandfather they have never heard of or showing them a picture they’ve never seen before of their grandmother. How about giving them a copy of a draft card showing the signature of a sorely-missed grandfather or showing someone a newspaper article with details about a great-grandmother’s wedding?

woman showing another woman photos on ipad outside

Does the thought of giving this kind of gift to someone else give you a thrill like it does for me? I’ve done it, and I guarantee it’s at least as fun for me as it is for those I am helping. The joy on their faces and the excitement in their voices tells me every time that this is a gift that goes straight to their heart.

In these days of uncertainty and anxiety, why not reach out to someone you know and let your love for and knowledge of family history give a sorely needed lift? It takes so little effort on your part, yet it can feel to others like the greatest gift they have ever received.

Need some ideas? Watch the video below and see what Brad did to give a precious gift to a new friend.

Give it a try and see what happens. Chances are you’ll make some amazing discoveries that will thrill, delight, and lift a sagging soul just when it’s needed the most. And maybe your friend or loved one will want to join you in a life-long ancestor treasure hunt!

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  1. I have searched for years to discover who my great great grandfather’s mother wise, to no avail. His name was Granville Kendrick, sometimes known or listed as B.G Kindrick. I believe he went by the name Billy and or Granville. I believe his father’s name was William and he was married several times and had several children by each wife. Grandville was born in 1828 and died in 1890. Any information or leads would be very much appreciated. He had a son who was my great grandfather whose name was Christopher Cicero Kindrick.

  2. My father was adopted it would be really great if I could find out any information on him other then his adoptive parents. His name I warren guy Wolcott born September 14 1927 in Los Angeles California. Is name before change was Richard warren Warner is what we were told.

  3. I have so many of my family’s stories locked in my head. I don’t know how to share them. I don’t want them to be lost and the younger children in my family are not interested. I am not sure how much longer I will be.. how do I share what I know about those who have already passed?

  4. Your guys are doing a great job. I will do more research in the month of May when I move to Santa Cruz, California.
    Time is slipping away.

  5. I have been trying for several years to find the parents of Laurilla Loomis who was born supposedly in New York in 1797 and died in Bradford County, PA – buried in Alba PA 1889. There seems to be no record – if someone knows how I might be able to find this information please let me know. I would be so grateful.

  6. My grandfather, Delaney Whitehurst Cobb, spent several years, sometime between 1900 and 1910, working as a surveyor in Mexico. I think it was Chihuahua or Coahuila, but am not sure. I would like to learn more about his time there; who he worked for, where it was and maybe what life was like in 1900-1910 there for him. He came back to Texas and got married afterwards.

  7. It’s wonderful to have someone always looking when U “Really don’t know”
    or understand “Who” or “How”
    Herb G

  8. Would like to have any information about the Paveo family and a marriage to M. SANTOS from the Azores around 1850’s.