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Thanksgiving is a great time to honor our family members who have passed away. However, the focus of the day can quickly turn to food, football and unhealthy dinner debates between individuals with different values and beliefs. Before we know it, the day is over and so is the opportunity to celebrate the life and memory of the people who are no longer at our table.

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is

like wrapping a present and not giving it."

William Arthur Ward

Many family leaders have a tradition of asking each person at dinner to share something they're thankful for. This ritual is nice, but it usually creates a quick and predictable response that brings the large group gratitude conversation to a close. This year I encourage you to have everyone at your table tell more positive stories about your family members who are resting in peace.

If you're interested in adding this idea to your Thanksgiving Celebration, it's helpful to prepare some questions in advance.

The suggestions below are meant to stimulate your thinking about the stories you'd like to tell of a family member who passed away.

Use the ones that resonate with you or create your own. You can experiment with asking a few questions to the group or giving one to each person and ask them to share a memory based on the question they were given. If they don't know the answer, they can interview someone else.

"Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"

The finale song of Act 2 of the musical Hamilton

Here are 25 sample questions:

  1. What is your favorite memory?

  2. What did you learn from them?

  3. What do you think they valued most in life?

  4. What words would you use to describe their character?

  5. How would you describe their personality?

  6. What made this person happy?

  7. What did they do that made you laugh?

  8. How did they inspire you?

  9. What were they like as a child?

  10. Who was a positive influence in their life?

  11. How did they bring out the best in you?

  12. What will you always remember about them?

  13. What did they enjoy doing?

  14. What did they do well?

  15. How would you describe what their best friends had in common?

  16. How do you think they would like us to honor their memory?

  17. What advice do you think they would give teenagers today?

  18. What legacy did they leave?

  19. What would you like for them to know that you never told them?

  20. What story do you think they want us to tell about them?

  21. What were the biggest obstacles they overcame in their life?

  22. What do you believe helped them be successful?

  23. What are the three most important events that shaped their life?

  24. What do you think they would say the world needs more of right now?

  25. What were they most proud of in their life?"

"The most important thing in the world is family and love."

John Wooden

Having more device-free dinners, where each family member contributes to keeping the legacy of your lost loved ones alive, is essential to sustaining a strong family bond, helping your family relationships flourish and hearing the people you love say...Thanks for the memories.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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