How To's and Tips, Celebrating Life, Assisted Living Communities

5 Fresh Activities for Seniors in Assisted Living

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Seniors in assisted living want to stay connected to their interests and passions. Families want to know that mom or dad is in a good community. Activity directors want fresh, worthwhile ideas that will generate participation and enthusiasm.

Meaningful activities can combat against depression, a common risk in long-term, senior living. Physical activities are hugely important, but the importance of cognitive exercises and social interaction cannot be downplayed.

The problem is that most assisted living communities have a very small activities budget. So, when resources and abilities are tight, make sure your activities calendar is packed with energetic and meaningful activities that will generate the most participation and greatest impact.

We’ve put together a quick list of some of our favorite assisted living activities that can lead to purposeful discussions and meaningful interactions.

Life Story Workshops 

Workshops that encourage discussing and writing life stories provide the opportunity for seniors to preserve their memories and leave their legacies. Seniors will enjoy sharing happy memories and the “good ole’ days”, but even more, talking about difficult memories can turn into a positive experience and contribute to a stronger community. There are numerous clinical studies that show that sharing life stories can be therapeutic for seniors suffering from depression.

Organize a group sharing session with a weekly theme, such as “Christmas Family Traditions”, “Favorite Vacations”, or “Childhood Memories”. Check out these prompts for intriguing questions and themes that you can use for inspiration.

Small groups work best with this activity so that an intimate environment is created and trust can be built. However, if resources and staff are limited, have seniors with similar interests partner with one another, or showcase a select few residents each week, and give them the floor to speak.

Remember to keep the sessions casual so that the senior feels relaxed, but structure is key in ensuring a smooth activity and the most meaningful interactions.

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Intergenerational Programs

Intergenerational programs facilitate visits from younger visitors to interact with senior residents. True intergenerational programs are, as Nancy Henkin of Temple University says, “not nice, but necessary.” This is an opportunity to create meaningful and fun interactions. The residents have the opportunity to be surrogate grandparents to local youngsters while children are able to learn from their elders. 

According to Senior Lifestyle, seniors who regularly volunteer with children burn 20% more calories per week, experienced fewer falls, were less reliant on canes, and performed better on memory tests than their peers.

 Depending the cognitive and mobility levels of your community, arts and crafts, reading activities, puzzles and games, or even lunch dates are just a few of the intergenerational activity possibilities. This is also an opportunity for youth to teach basic computer usage, bringing residents closer to their families through email, Skype, sending greeting cards and so much more. 

Show-and-Tell

Do you remember looking forward to “Show-and-Tell” day in your elementary school class? Now, after years and years of collecting keepsakes and memories, show-and-tell can be an opportunity for rich stories to emerge from your residents and for memories to resurface that haven’t been thought about for years.

Seniors are encouraged to choose an important belonging and share the story behind it to the group. Whether this is an old photograph, family heirloom, or a grandchild’s drawing, seniors have a chance to share something meaningful about their past. The seniors feel celebrated and honored. 

Celebrate Their Heritage

Celebrating the tangible and intangible aspects of your resident’s culture and ethnicity can add to the uniqueness of the seniors and strengthen the community as a whole. Activities that promote greater understanding of your differences while encouraging a conversation will help you learn about your community.

In addition to celebrating diverse holidays and serving ethnic foods, your community can honor the intangible aspects that have helped shape the seniors you serve today. This can be done through cultural speakers, music, cooking and art classes, or story sharing.

Volunteering Opportunities

Service to others is one of the most intrinsically fulfilling opportunities you can provide for your residents. Besides the innate reward of helping others, volunteering promotes good physical and mental health and helps seniors pursue their passions in retirement.

While they may not be able to physically lend a helping hand, they can do good within the walls of the community by making blankets for a charity, writing cards for a children’s hospital, packaging or sorting care boxes, and more. Immobility does not eliminate volunteering opportunities. Get creative, partner with a local charity, and bring in outside volunteers. In return, not only will your seniors feel good about themselves, you’ll be fostering a culture of compassion – not just for the residents, but for the local community and beyond.

 


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TSOLife (The Story of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

Family History, Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories

Have Your Grandparents Love with You Forever

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This is a testimonial provided by a TSOLife customer.

The holidays are a time to do something special for your loved ones, to celebrate their lives, and make them feel loved. When considering the perfect gift for our family patriarch, my 90-year-old father-in-law, Donald, my husband Jeffrey and I went looking for a way to document his life story and chose TSOLife. What initially was meant to be a unique gift turned out to be something much more meaningful and truly strengthened the bonds between my family.

Searching for a meaningful gift.

Finding the perfect gift can be challenging. But with so many reasons to celebrate this year – the holidays, Donald’s milestone birthday, and the first family reunion in several years - I knew I wanted to do something special for the whole family. However, I didn’t want to purchase my father-in-law another item of clothing, and his age made it challenging for us to take vacations.

Further, like many families, ours is spread out all over the country, and even gathering my immediate family with our own grown daughters is tough – let alone bringing our entire generational family together. What could I do for our family that would make everyone feel connected?

With my own parents’ passing over 15 years ago, I knew first-hand how special and cherished our time spent with our elders are. How can I capture my father-in-law’s life stories and preserve this memory of him? I desired a way to commemorate the wonderful life of my loving father-in-law and make him feel valued, respected, and loved.

How TSOLife Helped.

When I heard about the TSOLife Legacy Documentary, my immediate thought was how I wish I had a video like this of my own mom and dad. I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity, so that my own children would have no regrets, and that their children would be able to watch the video and say, “This is my great-grandpa.”

My husband’s siblings and we got together and arranged for the TSOLife team to make a documentary of dad seamlessly sharing life stories – a truly unique and meaningful Christmas present. The process was simple, we just chose the date, and the TSOLife team traveled to Donald to interview and film him. They asked questions that I would not have thought to think of, and their quality film equipment and expertise was something that I could not replicate on my iPhone.

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Strengthening the family bonds.

The TSOLife documentary was the perfect gift for my father-in-law, and is something that the whole family will cherish for years to come. We played the documentary at our family reunion, and for those who couldn’t travel to the festivities, we could share the digital link with them through Facebook and email.

Donald felt appreciated and celebrated, and we all heard stories that we had never heard before. We enjoyed hearing about his childhood, school stories, stories about his wedding, honeymoon and poignant memories about career, raising a family - impactful lessons that we would never have known and now have documented for the future. The film is absolutely beautiful, and the quality will stand the test of time. It opened up certain conversations that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I enjoyed my own daughters being able to ask their grandfather more stories about his childhood.

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Celebrate and honor your loved one.

Family history is a priceless gem that’s too often lost before it’s ever recorded. We should celebrate and cherish the relationships with our loved ones while we can.

This documentary turned out to be something way more than I expected, and goes far beyond then just a gift for my dad. Showing my love and appreciation for my loved ones is something that I greatly value, and I feel like this documentary had allowed me to do that for my family. This documentary gave us peace of mind knowing that Donald’s legacy is preserved, strengthened the bonds between our family, and celebrated our loved one. We will forever cherish this special film.

- Christi D., TSOLife Customer

Click here to watch Donald's full documentary.

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife focuses preserve legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

How To's and Tips, Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Writing Your Memoir, Memoir

Creating a Memory List: Great Tips to Start Your Memoir

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Writing about your life may sound easy… until you sit down with that blank piece of paper or computer screen in front of you and your mind goes blank.

Been there.

So, how do you get over this?  I suggest by creating a memory list! Trying to write your lifestories without a memory list is like driving on a dark road without headlights. When you turn on those lights, you can then stay in between the lines and on the road.

It is worth taking some time to create a list of events that have occurred during your life, and I know even that may sound overwhelming. Let’s begin with a few ground rules and make it fun:

Start thinking about the major events from your past. When you married; had a child; went to college; graduated high school; visited your grandparents in the summer; moved to another state… On and on it will go!! Once you open that part of your brain where the memories are stored, they will just flow onto the paper. (Some of you may find that typing in a word processor works for you just as well as writing on paper. YOUR CHOICE. Later, in a future post, we will talk more about how different writing methods can elicit different results in our perspective on a life event.)

We are trying to create a list of random thoughts and recollections - hundreds of brief statements. This may take you a few days, to a week and maybe even several months. I recommend creating this list in a way that you can add to it as time goes on.

Some folks like to use a 3-ring binder where you can shift the pages around and increase the pages easily. Of course, if you are typing on a word processor, there is always, “cut and paste!”. Don’t worry about repeating yourself as you write, as that can be a clue to something on your mind that needs to be explored.

I suggest you start this way: mull and ponder a little! As the memories come, jot them down and write whatever comes to mind. Release that inner censor that tells you, “that word is not spelled right”, “it’s not a full sentence”, etc. Let the thoughts drift from your brain.

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Have you heard of free writing? Don’t lift your hands from the paper, just keep going! Sometimes, you will remember dates, names, places, and other obscure memories - but not the details, just yet! It’s OK to write in fragments and short bursts of thoughts. Think of an old-fashioned water pump: one must pump that handle until the water starts to flow, and when it does, it just gushes out! Don’t punctuate, spell check, try to create a sentence or even a paragraph. Keep your list where you can access it easily and add to it until you have several pages.

Once you have those many pages of memories written, let’s get them organized! Read through your list and choose 5 to 10 core events that you want to write about first. It’s important to consider what you think changed your life’s direction, what lesson you may have learned, who and why were the most important people, places or things that made you who you are today. These core events are where you begin. Now you may write a sentence and get that spelling right!!

Your stories are there waiting to be told. Your task is to let them emerge from the depths of your memory. (Quote borrowed from Turning Memories Into Memoirs, A Handbook for Writing Lifestories, by Denis Ledoux)

Next time we will discuss how to expand those sentences and begin to write your lifestories by using your senses!

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

Ancestry, Family History, Documenting Your Story, Storytelling

5 Reasons To Tell Your Life Story

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To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen 

We’re fascinated by stories. Think about it. We spend hours watching movies, reading books, listening to music and podcasts. It’s human nature to gravitate towards stories.

There’s actually a science behind it. When we are being told a story, not only are the language processing parts in our brains activated, but any other area of the brain that would be used when experiencing the events of the story are too. For example, if someone tells a story about a delicious treat, our sensory cortex lights up. A good story can put your whole brain to work.

Science aside, our stories hold power. Storytelling transcends our past and gives a glimpse to the future. Stories are how we think and how we make meaning of our lives. Your life story can heal you and your story can heal someone else.

Below are 5 reasons to tell your life story:

1. Other people can benefit from your wisdom.

Telling your story can inspire and teach others. You might not think your stories overflow with wisdom, but they allow your audience to feel something that they haven’t felt themselves – whether it’s pain, joy, heartbreak, or love. Your experiences can teach something that young people especially can benefit from. You might be just the role model they’ve been searching for.  We’re all humans. The stories that you tell will echo onto others - as we all live, love, hate, and die. 

2. Your stories are important to your family.

The experiences and stories from your childhood, of meeting your future wife, Sunday dinners with your grandparents, all provide context to your family. Your descendants will appreciate and cherish your life stories for generations to come. Simply sharing with your children and grandchildren the family they were born into can be exactly the reassurance they need. The older they get, the more curious they will be about who you were and what situations shaped you. Your stories are a glimpse of a life they'll never experience and the memories you leave behind will be cherished and spread by your loved ones. Your family will thank you for documenting your stories.

3. Build self-awareness.

Storytelling is a way to reflect on who you used to be and the journey to where you are now. By building your self-awareness, you’re able to understand people better, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment. Reflecting on your past self helps you celebrate your milestones and learn from your mistakes. Your narrative identity is the story of your life – but it’s more than just stories. How you understand your narrative frames your current actions and future goals. As Dan McAdams, Northwestern University psychology professor, explains:

The stories we tell ourselves about our lives don’t just shape our personalities - they are our personalities.

4. Relate to one another.

Sharing stories brings people together. When you hear a good story, you develop empathy with the storyteller and the situation. Think about it. Your friend tells you a story about her family from her childhood and you suddenly have a significantly better understanding of her and in return your relationship is strengthened. Sharing life stories allows the teller and listeners to find commonalities. Stories give context to the person’s life and connect us to something greater than ourselves. Humans are social beings and meaning is found in community.

5. It’s fun!

Writing your life story can be complex, involving narrative flow, character development, and dialogue. Or it can be surprisingly easy and fun. If you’re a natural storyteller and writing is a hobby of yours, writing a memoir or autobiography can be very fulfilling. However, you can still reap all the benefits of storytelling without over complicating your story. When was the last time you reminisced on your youth? This nostalgia is good for us in more ways than one, research shows. An ancient memory of rainbow snow cone juice running down your sticky chin might be the forgotten memory that will put a smile on your face.

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GET STARTED

If storytelling has all these benefits, why isn't everyone doing it? Staring at a blank piece of paper or screen when you have a lifetime of memories inside of your head may seem like a daunting task. To help get you started on sharing your life stories, we’ve developed an easy and fun (and free!) guide. The process was modeled after life writing workshops, and is led by a professional writing instructor who coaches you every step of the way through short videos. 

Start Writing Today!

No one has lived or seen the exact same things than you, in the same place and moment. Do you understand how special that is? Take the time and tell your stories. You’ll feel good and you just might touch others, too.


 

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About TSOLife

TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Company, Documenting Your Story, Celebrating Life

Everyone Has a Story to Tell: A Case Study

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A legacy preserved forever.

Michael Fronk touched the lives of everyone he encountered with his sense of humor and upbeat spirit. Although he is well known and beloved in his community, he didn’t want to miss any opportunities to grow closer to his family. His family and friends arranged for TSOLife to interview and film Michael sharing precious life stories. The Fronk family is located all over the country, but Michael’s personal and customized documentary has brought them all closer. His memories are now preserved in a unique short film. The documentary will contribute to the personalized funeral service that Michael desires.

We believe that everyone’s story is worth telling and too often these stories are lost before they are ever recorded.

The challenge.

Michael Fronk’s family and friends felt the sense of urgency to capture his legacy before it was too late. Like many families, the Fronks didn’t have the time or resources to personally interview, film, and transcribe his stories. They wanted to find a way for Michael’s grandchildren and great grandchildren to know the kind and charismatic man that he was.

Documenting Michael's stories.

The Fronk family wanted to preserve Michael’s legacy before it was too late. The solution was a TSOLife customized and professional documentary.

Michael was touched when his family approached him with the project. In 2 hours and in the comfort of his own home, the TSOLife team was able to interview and film Michael as he recounted childhood adventures and passed down life lessons and wisdom.

With professional editing that included cuts, photos, and high quality cameras, the Fronk family had a truly unique and customized keepsake. In addition to DVDs, the film, raw footage, and transcriptions were all safely archived on the TSOLife online platform so that family and friends could share and access whenever, forever.

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A unique & personalized documentary.

The TSOLife team visited Michael three months after delivering his documentary to check in. We had developed a special friendship and were thrilled to find out that he was feeling much better.  He beamed as he expressed his gratitude to us for helping him pass down and preserve his stories for his descendants.

Michael talked continuously about the many calls he received from long lost friends and even grandchildren who saw his video online and wanted to reconnect. As it turns out, Michael’s documentary had over 500 views on Facebook, was shared 20 times, and reached over 6,300 people! He was very flattered and pleasantly surprised by its success.

This documentary helped bridge the generational gap and strengthen the bonds amongst Michael’s family. Michael’s loved ones have peace of mind knowing that their beloved elder’s stories are forever preserved.

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What he likes about it so much is that “you can talk about a person all day long but to hear their voices, their stories, what their dreams were, how their fathers met their mothers… That’s immeasurable.”

The Fronk family has a unique and special piece of Michael that they can show at his memorial that goes beyond just a photo slideshow or scrapbook. Michael is comforted by the fact that he is controlling the message at his funeral, passing on advice and leaving his loved ones with an uplifting note. The documentary is not just a photograph but is a living memory.

“My documentary is something that my family will have to remember me by. They have something almost tangible, certainly visual, that serves as a reminder of my love for them.”

-Michael Fronk

View Michael's Documentary!



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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

How To's and Tips, Funeral Home

Is Content Marketing Right for Your Funeral Home?


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In short, yes. Content marketing is profitable, if you're doing it right.

But frankly, if you’re creating content for search engine optimization (SEO), you’re wasting your time. Potential customers will not find your funeral home’s website through generic blog posts titled What to Say at a Funeral or topics on traditional Malaysian cremation practices. These keywords are searched on Google, but the chances of them being typed by a potential customer in your area are slim to none.

However, that’s not to say that you should scratch your social media efforts and stop writing blogs altogether. Having a content marketing strategy based on the unique needs, issues, and perspectives of the ideal customers will give your funeral home brand recognition and set you apart from the competitors.

When it comes to content marketing, we think the funeral home industry could learn a thing or two. Keep reading to find out what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do to maximize your results.


What is content marketing?

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a marketing strategy that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience. Marketers utilize social media networks, blogs, and other media types like Ebooks, case studies, webinars, and podcasts to put material in front of potential and existing customers. According to Kissmetrics, 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. It seems that everyone is doing it. Then why are funeral homes struggling to create effective content marketing? 

Web-based content marketing allows you to reach customers across the globe. However, for a funeral service, this is not necessarily an advantage when you're offering a service that is only applicable to customers who live in the area. For example, say you wrote a blog post titled "What to Say at a Funeral", and it had incredible SEO (search engine optimization). However, your funeral home is located in Florida, and your audience is the entire Internet community searching those keywords on Google. Your time and resources are wasted on writing that blog when your goal is to convert readers to customers, and the majority of your readers are not in a 30 mile radius of your funeral home. 

This example illustrates the common misuse of content marketing. To address this, it is important to distinguish the difference between content developed for potential customers and existing customers. 

Remember that all content you create should be original. Search engines reward content that is unique and catered towards a specific search. Creating good content takes time, and you'll benefit from making this a priority. Don't simply go through the motions.

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a marketing strategy that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience. Marketers utilize social media networks, blogs, and other media types like Ebooks, case studies, webinars, and podcasts to put material in front of potential and existing customers. According to Kissmetrics, 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. It seems that everyone is doing it. Then why are funeral homes struggling to create effective content marketing? Is this even the right approach for a funeral home?

What you’re doing right.

Families who are familiar with your funeral home look to you for support and answers along every step of the funeral process, from pre-planning to dealing with grief months after the service.

If you don’t already, make sure your funeral home has a FAQ on your website and pages on grief support, funeral terminology, types of services, tips on creative services, and more community resource. When building this content, ask yourself, "How can my customers maximize their investment?". Additionally, your blog posts compliment these pages. For example, the Grief Support page can incorporate inbound links to related blog articles you’ve written, like How to Help a Grieving Friend. This is great for the stage of customers who are already on your web page, but writing blog posts should not be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. The aforementioned resources will affirm your expertise, help you qualify prospects, and finally help make the sale but will not bring prospects to your site.

What you’re doing wrong.

Generic blog posts. Remember that all content you create should be original. Search engines reward content that is unique and catered towards a specific search. Creating good content takes time, and you'll benefit from making this a priority. Don't simply go through the motions.

Thinking that your blog is going to show up on the first page of Google. It most likely won’t, unless your content is extremely unique to the keywords being search. Don’t get too disappointed when your post is not ranking as highly as you thought it would on Google’s search results. The people searching for “inspiring quotes to guide you through grieving” are probably not your customers anyways.

Paying thousands of dollars to a third party to write your blog posts. Your money is better suited somewhere else where you can actually convert leads. In the next section we’ll dive deeper into where your resources will actually pay off.

What you can do to maximize results.

How do your offerings and expertise set you apart from competition? What makes your funeral home the best? In today’s competitive marketplace, it is essential to implement marketing that makes your firm the first to come to mind when a death occurs and families need to act fast.

Market yourself as the go-to resource in your community on all things funeral related. If families have benefited from your expertise services on death education, pre-planning, and grief support, they'll be more likely to recommend you to others. Peer recommendations carry significant weight in today's customer. Additionally, they’ll return when they know you are the best funeral home in the area. There's no need to explore other firms when you've proven yourself as the best funeral home in the area. This concept goes back to my previous point that content marketing will help you make the sale but will not get enough SEO to rank for generic keywords.

Now, in regards to getting potential customers on your page, you need to focus on solving your prospects’ needs. Why do your customers care about the content you're publishing? To do this, develop content that will get your brand name in front of your community. 

  • Hire a video company to create a virtual tour of your home. If you were looking for a wedding photographer, you’d want to see examples of their photos, not read a blog title 10 Best Most Flattering Wedding Poses. Similarly, when shopping-around for funeral homes, it’d be a critical asset to the families to be able to actually watch a short video showing off your space. Use the money you would spend on an inbound marketing company for a service that actually brings value to your customers.
  • Hire a professional to film your staff and interview the funeral director. Let your potential customers meet your friendly and professional team before they make that first line of contact.
  • Write a newsletter. A monthly newsletter gets your message directly to the community. This is especially applicable to your existing and previous customers. If they're already using your services, they've most likely given you permission to email them. Do you do any outreach programs or facilitate group grief support activities? Advertising these events in a newsletter is content marketing that proves that your firm is more than just a funeral home - you're an ally along the journey during this challenging time. 
  • Partner with community groups and businesses in your area and align your services with theirs. For example, partner with a personal documentary service and incorporate them into your pre-plan packages. Then you'll be adding value to your funeral home and will be able to use these inspirational videos as content marketing pieces on social media.

Reevaluate Your Strategy.

Being able to adapt your content marketing strategy based on the unique needs, issues, and perspectives of your potential and existing customers will help you attract the ideal customers and build trust with your existing customers. Be the expert on all things grief and design your content as support tool for every step of the process. 

Ask yourself, why would my clients read this? What need does this serve? Will my potential customers be able to find this content? Remember, designing successful content is challenging. So, put in the time, do your research, and remember, no one knows your service and customers as well as you do.

At the end of the day, content marketing for SEO is not going to get leads in the funnel. A blog does not build your relationship with potential customers, but the fact that you’ve been in the market for 80 years is what adds value to your funeral home. Market yourself on what will stand out to the customer. Is maximizing your SEO the best use of your resources? For most of you, probably not.

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife provides innovative solutions that go above and beyond to give clients the memorials they deserve. Include TSOLife's documentary service as part of your pre-need packages and set your funeral home apart from the rest. It is time to celebrate a life well-lived in a way that is engaging for the whole family. 

Learn More!


 

How To's and Tips, Funeral Home

What to Wear to a Funeral


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Deciding what to wear to a funeral almost seems obvious, but wearing black is becoming outdated as more and more mourning services are being replaced by celebrations-of-life services. Figuring out what to wear to a funeral can be confusing, especially when your outfit is the last thing on your mind in the midst of your grieving. 

Have you ever wondered...

Why do people wear black to funerals? Wearing black has been a long-accepted tradition intended to show respect to the deceased and the family. Where did the association of black mourning clothing come from? In fact, this tradition can be traced back to the Roman Empire when the family of the deceased would wear a dark-colored toga called a toga pulla. This tradition spread to Europe during medieval times when widows wore black caps and veils to convey their mourning.

Do all cultures wear black to funerals? In other parts of medieval Europe like Spain and France, widows in their deepest mourning wore white. White is also traditionally worn in India and China. However, at a Chinese funeral service, if someone is older then 80, red is acceptable. Further, in Myanmar, yellow is acceptable, and in Iranian culture, mourners traditionally wear blue or purple.

As you can see, dressing for a funeral is not "black and white" when you take into consideration the venue, the family, and the culture - making us ask the question: what do I wear to a funeral?

Here are some general tips to help you dress for a funeral, memorial service, visitation, wake, or graveside service.

  • Choose a color. The inclination is to choose something black, but a gray, navy, or other understated colors is also appropriate in most situations. It should not be something that will stand out, as you should aim at clean, subdued color clothing. If color is specified or it's an entirely non-traditional ceremony, don't worry about dressing in dark colors.
  • Think classic. Dress appropriately and conservatively, especially if the service is in a place of worship. Keep in mind the guests that will be attending, and if they would find your clothing inappropriate, you should probably change. It is sometimes helpful to dress business professional - skirts, trousers, suits. 

Some further tips to add:

  • Are you a member of the immediate family? If so, keep in mind that you will be setting the dress code for the rest of the guests.
  • If you're outside and it's a summer day in Florida, you are most likely not expected to wear a full suit. 
  • A pre-planned funeral service may include instructions for attendees attires. 
  • Occasionally, the family will request that guests wear their loved one’s favorite color, sports team jersey, or something else that might have been meaningful to the person who passed away. They will usually note this in the service announcement.

Hopefully this post has helped you when deciding what to wear to a funeral service. At the end of the day, your presence is what truly matters. This is not a time for people to be judgmental, so unless you're wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt, you're probably OK. You can now have the peace of mind to be able to focus on grieving - and celebrating the life - of your loved one.

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife is a Florida based company that focuses on creating new and innovative ways to preserve legacies and pass down life stories for future generations. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down life stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!


 

Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Storytelling, Writing Your Memoir, Memoir

How to Start a Memoir

I remember when I was very young, and my father showed me my great grandmother's memoir that he and his cousins constructed into a book. Reading her memoir made my family history incredibly more meaningful. Because I never had the chance to meet her, Elizabeth's stories of living in the Great Depression, her experiences at Bennett College, how her father made my great grandfather wait to marry her, all painted a picture of the adventurous, intelligent, spirited woman that I was named after (well, my middle name). My great grandmother had no idea what impact her memoir would have on her great granddaughter, who might even read it to her granddaughter. I have a much greater admiration for my great grandmother, knowing that she took the time to carefully construct her memoirs, planting seeds she would not see the fruit of.

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So, why should you write a memoir? You most likely have explored the idea of writing your memoir, and are doing a bit of research into the process and best practices before you commit the time and energy. Whether you were inspired by a loved one's memoir or recently read a great memoir book (check out Jeanette Wall's The Glass Castle!), you're new to the idea and searching how to start a memoir. This post will help answer the why's and how's to get you started on writing your personal memoir.

WHAT IS A MEMOIR?

First, let's start by explaining what a memoir actually is, not to be confused with an autobiography, book, or journal, though a personal memoir can be constructed from or into any of these. It is defined as a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events that took place in the subject's life. It can be any type of combination of history and reminiscence, personal or public.

WHO WILL READ YOUR MEMOIR?

Memoirs are not just for the famous or those who lived especially eventful lives. Everyone has a story to tell. You can simply be sharing with your children and grandchildren the family they were born into. Your personal piece of history might be the lasting legacy you give to future generations. Your memoir is a glimpse of a life they'll never experience and the memories you leave behind will be cherished and spread by your loved ones. Nobody has lived or seen the exact same things than you, in the same place and moment. But, of course, as we’re all humans, the stories that you tell will echo on the others - as we all live, love, hate, and die. 

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However, even if you have no children or you're not convinced anyone will read your stories, the personal fulfillment is worth it. A memoir is a way to reflect on who you used to be and the journey to where you are now. My great grandmother initially started her memoir for her own enjoyment. An ancient memory of blue Popsicle juice running down your sticky chin might be the forgotten sweet memory that will put a smile on your face. You don't need an audience in mind to write a memoir, and this may also contribute to a much more enjoyable experience when you're not distracted with the idea of who will be reading your thoughts.

Further, writing your memoir has been proven to result in improvements in both your psychological and physical health. According to one study, participants who frequently engaged in writing about their past, current relationships, and their emotions had significant mental and physical health benefits and social and behavioral improvements. To name a few, writers had reduced blood pressure, improved mood, altered social and linguistic behavior, feelings of greater psychological well-being, a higher grade point average, and improved memory.

YOUR PERSONAL MEMOIR

Pretty astounding, right? If simply writing your memoir has all these benefits, why isn't everyone doing it? Staring at a blank piece of paper or screen when you have a lifetime of memories inside of your head may seem like a daunting task. To help get you started on your personal memoir, we've put together an introduction to writing your memoir with best practices, tips and tricks, and inspirational writing topics! You can download the FREE guide below:

Download the Intro to Writing Your Memoir Guide! 

You're now convinced of the importance of writing your memoir and you have the tools to do so. As William Zinsser said, "Writers are the custodians of memory." Take the time and write your memoir. Make it yours. You'll feel good and maybe with a little luck and patience, you might touch others too.  



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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife, a personal historian service and online tool to help you capture, record, preserve and share the story of a life well lived. TSOLife makes it easy and enjoyable to document a personal history that will be cherished by future generations. We invite you to schedule a FREE hour with a personal historian to help start documenting your life story.

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Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling

Is Social Media Making Us Narcissistic?

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Social media tempts us to live in an attention seeking society and it seems that everyone is on board with it. The usage statistics of these cites are astounding. Every day, on average, 60 million photos are uploaded to Instagram. More than 20% of the world's population publishes details of their lives on Facebook, creating over 3.2 billion likes and comments every day.

To many, this might not come as a surprise. If you're reading this, you most likely came across it through social media. We've joined Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn , Facebook and all the rest and are fascinated, not looking away, even when we're having a face-to-face conversation. It's never been easier to see what your friends are up to, stay in contact with people, and, most noticeably, become a publicity-seeking narcissist. The constant desire to display our lives to the public, searching for this approval from others, has influenced a culture of vanity and self-endorsement.

But, is this really what our society has come to? For many, social networks are to blame for their narcissism, but others just need to find a balance before teetering on the edge.

I'd like to think that social media hasn't shaped an entirely egotistical existence. These platforms have opened up creative outlets, given a voice to the ignored, fostered relationships, assisted in a job searches, introduced us to new ideas and concepts, built time capsules for users, created a platform for documenting our life stories... The list could go on.

However, what happened that transformed our use of social media from casually checking our accounts into habitually surfing and refreshing for notifications? It's imperative to find a balance and prevent the dark side of social media from shadowing the positives. There are several good habits you can practice that will help you resist the urge from constantly checking your phone or computer:

1. Schedule "me" time. It's important to have time to yourself, but with hectic schedules, we're often moving from one thing to the next. Instead of using any free opportunity to check your social networks, do something that betters yourself first. Go for a walk, write a letter, read, call your grandparents, stretch, or simply sit quietly by yourself.

2. Get into the habit of not checking your phone for the first hour of your day. For many of us, it's first instinct to look at our notifications as soon as we get up. Instead, practice mindfulness and resist the urge. Start your day off on a positive note. Ensuring you begin your day quietly with minimal outside distractions can have a positive influence on the rest of your day.

3. Avoid distractions. When working or studying, exercise restraint from looking at your notifications. This can lead to unintentional time lost. If you have a strong desire to constantly check your social media, look at it on the hour as a reward for a distraction-free 60 minutes of work.

4. Don't compare yourself with others. You are simply viewing a certain aspect of someone's life, and everyone posts only their best photos or the exciting aspects of their lives. Be happy for their accomplishments, and understand that the people your viewing also face trials and tribulations.

5. Don't worry about being approved. Some people rely on social media for their self-confidence. Refuse to constantly check to see who's liked your post, waiting to feel validated. Feel happy and approving of yourself and don't give that control to others. Instill a healthy sense of esteem offline before logging on.

6. Give quality time to others first. The real relationships in your life are the most valuable. Establish a rule with your friends to collect everyone's phones when you're out to eat or instill in your children that phones at the dinner table are unacceptable. Giving attention to your friends and family when they're with you will be the memories you'll cherish in the future.

Only by being less self-obsessed and placing more value on personal relating can we impart these values to the next generation. A healthy balance of social media can be formed where the threat of becoming narcissistic is inexistent. Everything in moderation. And avoid announcing to social media your attempts to reduce your social media usage.

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories

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Have you ever looked back on a photograph and immediately felt the sense of nostalgia? As if looking at that image brought you back to that exact moment in time? Memories are an important part of all of our lives. However, capturing the experience while also being in the moment can be a challenging task.

We are constantly hearing the expression "live in the moment", but we often use this phrase as an excuse to disregard the future. Many justify their impulsive actions  with this in order to assume no responsibility for the future. However, on the contrary, living in the moment is an expression to remind us that life unfolds in the present and that we should undertake our thoughts in awareness - not a rationalization to living recklessly.  Ironically, living in the moment can help you preserve memories for the future. Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Living in the moment is a paradox, because when we are focusing on the present, this will contribute to a happier future.

In Psychology Today's article, "The Art of Now" it writes:

"In her memoir Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' 'It takes all my persuasive powers,' writes Gilbert, 'to try to convince her that she is already here.'"

I'm sure we have all observed or personally experienced similar situations. If you have recently visited any tourist attraction, most individuals are affixed to their cell phones or cameras, neglecting to sit back and enjoy the view. However, it is difficult to not do so, especially when that photograph will be a cherished item many years from now.

Just as often as being too distracted by our cameras, I'm certain that we've also experienced the opposite, forgetting to document that special moment with a deceased loved one or of a once in a lifetime trip. Your children will never look as precious as they did in their matching holiday pajamas last Christmas. Your time in college flies by, and being able to look back on photographs of your first day of class or the time that maybe you shouldn't have done the keg stand at alumni weekend, will bring you back to the carefree memories of your youth. Will this be the last Mother's Day being able to celebrate your mother in person? Those moments are unrecoverable and the sentimentality of those photographs will hold true for many years to come.

Thus, the question arrises, how do we navigate the precarious balance between living in the moment and preserving the memory? Below are ten tips on preserving the memory while still being able to enjoy the occasion.

1. Don't stress about capturing the perfect photo. Take enough pictures to jog your memory. The meaning behind the photograph is more important then having an image worthy of National Geographic.

2. If you're at a wedding, take a few photographs of your own, but let the hired, professional photographer do his job to capture the details while you enjoy the day with friends and family.

3. Keep a journal. And write in it every night. In a few years, or even months, having that first person narrative of all the details will be just as special as a photograph.

4. Print, frame, and hang your photographs around your home. Too often we only store our photographs on our computers and forget about them. When we are able to view them everyday, the sentiment will bring happiness to our daily routines.

5. Use digital photo sharing websites like Flickr or Smugmug to safely store and share photographs with friends and family. Give Grandma and Grandpa the link to access these photos, keeping them updated on your child's big moments.

6. Similarly, make a Snapfish or Shutterfly book that collects the pictures from special event or vacation . These photo books make great gifts or coffee table books.

7. When experiencing a trip or event with others, have everyone share their photos in a  Facebook message. This way, if you forget your camera for an event or miss a special moment, you'll be able to look back on your friends' photos.

8. Make home videos. Gathering family and friends around the television to watch old home videos is something that the next generation will not have the privilege of doing. With video cameras becoming out of fashion, take the initiative to record video on your cell phone. Remember to frequently transfer the video to your computer as film requires a substantial amount of storage.

9. Take advantage of your cell phone to capture the memory, but ensure you're not getting distracted by texting or surfing the web.

10. At a special event, designate a friend who the event does not directly involve to take the photographs. This allows you to enjoy your child's baptism or birthday party and still have the photographs to reminisce at.

So next time you're cherishing a special moment, remember to document it while still living in the moment. As Ferris Bueller once said:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

ABOUT TSOLIFE

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The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days