5 Steps for Writing a Loved One’s Life Story

7 August 2019 • Online Memorials

5 Steps for Writing a Loved One’s Life Story

When we write about loved ones who have passed away, there are many ways to present their life story. 

We can describe their life events such as when they got married; where they went to school; how many children they had and what they did for work. We can write about where they travelled to, what sports they played and how they were involved in the community. These are all important events to share when writing about a loved one’s story.

However a life story goes much deeper than a series of events that occured throughout their existence. Their life story is a narrative that best reflects the loved one’s unique personal identity and the values they lived.

So how do you construct a narrative for your loved one? Here are 5 helpful steps to tell your loved one’s story to best describe their true character and personality.


1. Identify their life roles

Each and every one of us possess a number of different roles in our life. For example, as a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a friend, a colleague, a team mate, a father or mother, a grandfather or grandmother, a lover, a boss, a student and more.

Start by writing down all the roles your loved one played in their life

Once we understand this as a starting point, we can then plan how to write about their lives in each of their roles. 

Write about what role did they play for you?

If they were your father, or mother, how did they raise you, what values did they teach you and how were they a role model in your life. What were some of their unique characteristics? After all, everyone is different in their own way. We want to identify those positive unique traits that made them the person we remember.

Father son relationship

2. Describe the role they played in your life

Start by thinking about the role they played for you in your life and values you think defined them, then relate that to a situation or experience.  

For example I’ve talked below about some of the values my Dad demonstrated and taught me in his role as a father.

“My father was more than a Dad - he was my role model, friend and life coach. What I loved about him most was his caring way of connecting to help me make better life decisions. 

I remember when I was 14, Dad found out that I was smoking cigarettes on the school grounds. Most of my friends' fathers would have scolded them if they heard this news about their child. 

Not my Dad. He took me aside and told me privately in a calm and collected manner what he thought about smoking cigarettes and his own life experiences and regrets relating to smoking. 

He ended the conversation by saying that he trusted me to make the right decisions in life. 

I tended to be slightly rebellious as a juvenile, so had he demanded me not to smoke and taken my cigarettes off me, I’m sure I would have reacted differently. However the caring way that he explained his perspective in many situations led me to make better decisions not only around smoking cigarettes, but about life in general.”

Calm, compassionate and considerate are just a few of the values that I relate to my father and this experience is an example of how he lived those values. This is what makes Dad; Dad and some of the many reasons why I love him so much.

What values and personality traits defined your loved one? What experiences do you recall that highlighted the values they lived?


3. Ask friends and family to share their perspective

People can display a number of characteristics across their various life roles. To help us truly understand who they were, it helps to get a more rounded view from other people who spent time with them in a different context. 

To do this, reach out to others to contribute their views on your loved one. You may even learn something new about them.

People you can reach out to includes: 

  • Their immediate and extended family

  • Best friends 

  • Close work colleagues 

  • Others they spent a lot of time with 

If you have created an online memorial for them, you can usually share the memorial page with others to contribute. to the page 

Alternatively, you can ask people to write or email you directly with a description of  the loved one from their perspective. 


4. Use photos, videos, quotes and other memorabilia that helps remember them

Describing people in words can often be difficult, so why not share pictures, videos, quotes or common sayings / quotes which relate to your loved one. This could include other memorabilia that reflects a memory or experience with them such as tickets to an event, or something they made like a knitted scarf. 

Some people may choose to keep a photo album of their memories or a scrapbook with physical memorabilia. 

Others may decide that online is the best channel to store memories. If so, Online Memorials are a great way to upload and store photos, videos or stories about your loved on. 

You can also take photos of relevant memorabilia and upload these to conserve and maintain them forever.

What photos, memories and memorabilia do you have of your loved one?

Photo Memories

5. Take your time to write their story

Creating a loved one’s life story doesn’t happen in a day. It’s an ever evolving creation that can develop and grow over time. There may be times where you recall a specific memory that you had previously forgotten. These thoughts may come and go, but why not write them down and share them to keep your memories of them alive forever.


Whether you add a memory each week, month, or on auspicious occasions like the anniversary of their death or birthday, that is completely up to you. It will never be a completed project, just one that will forever grow.

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