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I remember when...

Storytelling from the people that knew and loved you

Photo of Rob Sheffield
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

A dignified death is important for the sufferer, and his/her lived ones. But, after death, the rest of us continue. And this idea is for the ones who remain, who knew the deceased. What is reimagined here is how story telling can keep the person in our lives. Stories are vivid and real. In this idea, people tell their stories of the deceased. They are recorded and located centrally - for example, on a web site - and are accessible to everyone who knew the deceased person.

As Bryan Patten says in this excerpt from his poem, So many different lengths of time.

"So, how long does a man live after all?

And how much does he live while he lives?

We fret and ask so many questions –

Then when it comes to us

The answer is so simple, after all.

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us

For as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams –

For as long as we ourselves live,

Holding memories in common, a man lives."

My idea is that after a person has died, members or friends of the deceased, record audio stories from people who knew him/her. These will be collated and placed on a web page, where the stories can be accessed by anyone. 

The stories will be from any times from the person's life, but chosen by the teller. They will reflect something important for the teller: friendship, fun, work, social times, community events, music, etc.

The overall effect will be very personal. 

I imagine that stories from the web page will be listened to by family members, friends, children and grandchildren of the deceased person. 

It would become a personal, digital, storytelling shrine.

(Note the similarities to other ideas suggested, such as: "Communicate Beyond the End" by Marc.)

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

1. Ask people what they think of the idea, and whether they think it is feasible. 2. Book a web domain. 3. Trial it. My father died 2 months ago, and something like this is on my mind.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Tell me what you think of the idea: value, feasibility, desirability. Offer help of any sort.

Tell us about your work experience:

I work in the field of educating people around leadership and innovation. I'm a tutor, coach and occasional writer.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Bahenda Joseph

Hello Rob Sheffield,

Congratulations for sharing this insightful idea. I think this could emerge as a new science over time. I am thinking about the world population which is 7.4 billion today. We assume that everyone will die. If one organization (individual) could assign himself the task of making a database of the these recodings, it coud be a challenging task, I guess. Or you would develop a platform like facebook where any individual may place information about a deceased relative? I will place this text at the wall of Marc because he has a similar idea as he mentionned, and I am eager to learn more about it. You can also click on the link below to view how the information about the world population is processed:

Best regards,


Photo of Sue Kemple

What if your deceased loved one had a legacy memorial site already in place - one he or she had created before death, or one you'd created for him or her - and there were a space on that site dedicated to your loved one where you could upload these files with ease? How appealing does that sound to any of you?

Photo of Rob Sheffield

Thanks Sue. What could a legacy memorial site look like? Is it always a website like these:  

Does it have to be digital? I imagine so, but...I don't know - we don't seem to use the concept in the UK. 

Photo of Sue Kemple

Something like that, Rob. Our company, My Last Soundtrack ( is looking into creating sites that are much cooler and more interactive - a site where people might expect to find recordings and videos and all kinds of ways to remember their loved ones not only fondly, but vividly. As we expand our offerings, I could see an idea like your being a very appealing component.

Photo of Rob Sheffield

That is a splendid idea Sue. I personally don't want Take That at my funeral, but Elvis and Fats Waller are welcome. Anyway, there are some themes emerging between different ideas here.

What strikes me is that the idea of having a 'place' of memories interests people. The tricker bits are:

1. Who talks? (Dying person, friends, family.)
2. Who curates?
3. Who owns the site?

Thanks for your thoughts, Sue.

Photo of Jim Rosenberg

I find something very loving in this idea. It's been on my to do list for a while now to ask our friends to record little stories and remembrances of Amy, my wife who died 5 years ago. I know our daughter will have a million questions about her mom as she grows up. I'd love to create this collection for her. If there were an easy to use site to create this "collective journal" odds are I would have it done by now. I could use Facebook, Tumblr, or other social media platforms to do this (e.g. create a Facebook page for "Remembering Amy" and have everyone post there) but 1) using these platforms somehow doesn't feel "personal" enough and 2) I don't trust social media companies with our content. As you explore this idea I'd be curious to see how you might differentiate from general social media platforms and  address those two concerns.