When the Mind Goes Blank

Today, May 8th is a day that is sandwiched between two anniversaries. Yesterday, May 7th would have been my grandparent’s 72nd anniversary. Tomorrow, May 9th is my parent’s 31st anniversary. For my entire life, it has been a time of celebrations and family. It is a time when stories that reflect the past come up yet it has not always been a time when questions were asked. Now that my grandparents are gone, as well as many that would have attended their wedding back in 1946, some of the stories are gone, and questions come up sometimes daily that are left unanswered. I think of my parents, still alive and well with years left to live yet my mind draws a blank on the questions I want to ask, and about the stories I want to hear. We can learn so much from our families past, yet how can we learn when we can no longer hear the stories, or think of the questions to ask? There is knowledge out there to be gained, floating somewhere in the abyss. The same is true for my other set of grandparents who the past January would have been married 56 years. I want to know, but where do I start? 

This cycle of thought reminded me of what we might need to help families when they are caring for a loved one. Speaking from experience, as dementia progresses the questions surface and you wish had months or even years left to ask those questions. We want to remain connected to our loved ones until they no longer are with us. By knowing their story in color and detail we can not only better provide for and understand what they might want or need, but we can feel whole when the loss comes. In this meandering of thoughts this day, I took time to take a step back and come up with questions you might want to ask your loved ones no matter how old, no matter their current state of health. From the joyful to the serious, to the playful, to the sad, let us work to learn the story of those closest to us.

1. Where did the two of you meet? (When talking to your mom or dad)

2. What was a song you loved to dance to or sing along to together?

3. What was your greatest struggle when you were young?

4. What was your greatest triumph growing up?

5. What is your favorite month of the year?

6. Where would you have loved to live? Visit?

7. What was/is your favorite hobby?

8. What was one struggle you had with your parents?

9. What is your favorite moment spent with your parents?

10. What is your greatest fear?

11. What brings you the most joy?

12. What was a favorite game you played or toy you had when you were little?

13. What was your school experience like for you?

14. What were your feelings on your wedding day?

15. Did you ever have any pets?

16. If you could get a pet today, what would it be and what name would you give your new pet?

17. Where were you baptized?

18. What were your grandparents like and did you spend a lot of time with them?

19. What is your favorite flower?

20. What do your dream for your life tomorrow? 

Hopefully, this gets the gears in your mind turning during your next family gathering and opens up your time together to the sharing of great and meaningful stories.

Note: As I was about to hit publish on this post I thought I would do some digging to see what else is out there. I found this list that has 150 questions you should ask your family members, and this Over Share card set that I remember hearing about from Mindy Bolton of Playscriptions. Both of these options offer more of the silly and serious. 

Published by Kathryne Fassbender

Creative Gerontologist, Speaker, Catholic Innovator. I am also the granddaughter of someone who lived with Vascular Dementia.

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