Discussing Have the Talk of a Lifetime with Allison Gilbert

By Ashlee Peck

As a genealogist, you would likely agree that storytelling amongst family members is one of the greatest ways to gather information about your loved ones. Unfortunately, so many of us wait until our family members are gone to realize that we wish we would have had more meaningful conversations while they were here.  With the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards, you can sit down with your closest loved ones to have a deep and satisfying conversation, one where you learn about the people, places and events that most deeply impacted their lives.

As this Family History Month begins to draw to a close, we sat down with author and producer Allison Gilbert to discuss her involvement with the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program, and how we can go about celebrating the lives of those we love.

allison gilbert

If you’re not familiar with Allison Gilbert, you’ve probably at least heard of something that she has worked on. From writing four very well received books, to producing multiple shows such as CNN’s American Morning,  and even succeeding in winning three Emmys for her work, Gilbert’s resume is already more than impressive. So what inspires her to be such an advocate of the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program?

Gilbert’s involvement in the program is actually something that developed quite organically, based on the work that she already does helping families and individuals reflect on and appreciate loved ones before they are gone.  Her work on these topics comes out of a deeply personal place, as Gilbert lost both of her parents as a young adult. Managing their loss while navigating her early career years was then paired with her being injured while providing coverage of the 9/11 attacks, when she was hit by a piece of debris during the collapse of the second tower. These experiences drove Gilbert to begin her work as an author. Her four books center around grief and resilience, as she discusses her personal insight on celebrating passed loved ones and harnessing loss as an inspiration for creativity and happiness.

While attending a convention held by the National Funeral Directors Association, Gilbert heard them note what she too knew to be true – that the thing most people regret after losing a love one isn’t that they wish they’d have gone to one more dinner or baseball game, but that they wish they would have asked more questions, known more, written down that story. They wish they had more knowledge that they could pass along. Upon hearing this, it was a natural fit that she would join the National Funeral Directors Association in their efforts with the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program.

have the talk of a lifetime

Put together by The Funeral and Memorial Information Council , Have the Talk of a Lifetime offers families and individuals practical advice and tools to facilitate conversations about the things that matter most to them, and how they hope to be remembered for generations to come.  In an effort to make the conversations as meaningful as possible, the FAMIC has put together a variety of resources, including a preparation checklist, a workbook, and the tool we find most handy – a deck of conversation cards. The cards contain 50 questions for you to discuss with your loved ones, as you have meaningful and enlightening conversations about their life, values, and wishes for how they’d like to be remembered.

Deep and meaningful conversations like the ones prompted by the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program are so important, and are often not something that many of us manage to do with our loved ones. Each of us wants to feel that we have made a difference in the world, or that our story will live on once we are no longer here. Have the Talk of a Lifetime has made that goal so much more achievable, while also allowing family members and friends to get reacquainted with each other, or to even learn something entirely knew about the people they love. And as Allison Gilbert points out, having these sorts of conversations before the loss of a loved one often helps and comforts us during our time of grieving.

Family History Month may be coming to an end, but with the holidays on the horizon, there are many opportunities coming up for meaningful conversations with the ones you love. If you’re feeling inspired to do just that, the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards are available for free through the month of October. What better gift to give those you love than the knowledge that their story will still be here generations later?