Beyond just telling one’s story, gerontologists and therapists are discovering a wealth of benefits from telling one’s story, from lowering blood pressure to coming to terms with childhood trauma. To simply understanding yourself.

Telling your story, reviewing your life in the presence of another can be unusually affirming. People discover the real meaning their lives have had. Ultimately, this is a journey into wholeness….

That’s beyond the great gift that others receive in connecting to family and history.

But there are other benefits. Let me tell you three stories, two of them quite personal:

My father was a fine jeweler, whose work was sold through some of the top jewelry stores in the nation. When my mother needed round-the-clock care, we sold the jewelry my father made for her at auction, excerpting a narrative about his life from the oral history I had transcribed years before. Not only did the personal story net a stronger sale for my mother, it also honored my father’s legacy as both a craftsperson and advocate against the Nazi influence in pre-World War II New York.

Both my parents eventually suffered from dementia. The narratives I created about them were devoured by their caregivers. Through these stories they knew the full people my parent were.

Another client helped to start a library. For its fortieth anniversary gala fundraiser, long after the founder passed away, we excerpted her speaking about her passion for this library that has now become a community center.

When a parent dies, it’s the end. I always wanted to chronicle the family history with my mother. She was always interested. … But I wasn’t forceful, and I didn’t make it happen. That’s one regret I have. I didn’t get as much of the family history as I could have for the kids.”—Robert De Niro

So What Does a Story Cost?
bill_bowIt depends on the project.

The most basic project, an oral history (left in question & answer format), costs as little as $500. This is a booklet based on the transcription of a two-hour interview, and includes audio and two copies of the booklet. Pictures, digital copies, changes and more interviews are extra.

Larger projects usually begin at $1000, depending on the length of interviews.

There are so many variables! Do contact me to discuss your project, whether it is a life story, writing an ethical will, creating a commemorative album, offering a workshop or helping you complete your own manuscript.

It’s a human need to want to leave something behind: experiences, values, feelings that may not have been fully expressed. But a concrete legacy is only one of the benefits of creating a personal history. Experts agree that reviewing and assessing one’s life also has emotional and physical benefits.”—Time Magazine

Donna Gold
donna [at] personalhistory [dot] org

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