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“Where were you on 9/11?”
Helen’s granddaughter asked her.

“Where were you on 9/11?” Helen’s granddaughter asked her. (Helen is a changed name).

They were driving home when NPR radio aired a segment about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At the time, Helen worked across the street from the burning twin towers in New York. Since then, she had spent decades trying to forget visions of people injured and killed, of the white towners crumbling into a pile of smoldering dust. And the smell of burning plastic and ash wafting over the city for days after.

Painful as those memories were, Helen recognized that her granddaughter’s question was an opportunity to talk about how that disaster changed her life and shaped her values. How it brought into focus for her that friends and family come first; not to be taken for granted. And that possessions and career are secondary.

“I was working in the building facing the South Tower and it was a terrifying experience. But it also taught me some important things about myself,” Helen began…

…Think back in your own life to some event that changed you forever. An experience that deeply shaped your values and your world view, and perhaps even shifted the very direction of your life. As you recount your experience, you can describe how it affected you and what you learned from it. These kinds of stories enable you to share important life lessons without sounding preachy. These stories can be powerful tools for showing your heirs where they came from, who you are, what your values are and any lessons that they might take away for themselves.

Some key points your story can include are:

  • A brief account of what happened, who was affected.
  • How the event affected you, both physically and emotionally.
  • How the event changed your world view and your values.
  • How your life was changed by the event.
  • What changes you chose to make in your life as a result of the experience.
  • Some silver linings to this experience.
  • Why you think this story is important for your descendants to hear.