This Is Us and Family Memories

The importance of preserving them

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If you’re a This Is Us fan like me, it will likely come as no surprise I’m still thinking about the episode that aired after the Super Bowl. Quick recap: viewers learned exactly how Milo Ventimiglia’s character, Jack, died.

The episode shows how the Pearson family remembers Jack’s death on Super Bowl Sunday 20 years before. The characters reminisce in various ways: Randall celebrates his father’s memory by having a party and making a big deal of the day (Jack loved the Super Bowl), Rebecca, Jack’s wife, prepares his favorite lasagna, while Kate, his daughter, watches a home movie of her and her father.

What struck me most, however, was the near catastrophe that happened when Kate’s VCR made a terrifying whirring sound while she viewed the tape. She’d been enjoying the video when the machine sputtered and stopped playing. Her husband attempts to fix it, but the VHS tape seems beyond repair. Kate starts crying at the possibility these images are gone forever. That video is her only copy. The couple rush to get the tape fixed, and luckily, it’s salvaged and uploaded to the Cloud.

The Great VHS Scare is a reminder that our most important memories are just one crisis away from being eternally lost. After my father died (my second parent to pass away), I started digitizing our family’s 35mm slides, 8mm film reels, and yes, VHS tapes. I began slowly at first. After several years of starting and stopping, proceeding and then being distracted by work, my children, life!, I’ve now uploaded most of these images and feel secure they’re safeguarded for my children and future generations.

This process has been a joyful experience for me — so much so that I now serve as Executive Family & Memories Editor for Legacy Republic. If preserving and sharing memories are passions for you, too, I highly recommend making your interests a career. Legacy Republic has launched its Pro Services division. Check it out here.

Over time, I’ve come to learn the key to healing after loss is being proactive about remembering. Watching home movies helps. Sharing stories is wonderful, too. (You can learn 85 ways to honor family and friends you never want to forget in my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive.)

One of the most popular opportunities for remembering loved ones is cooking reminiscent food. That’s exactly what Rebecca did when she made that lasagna in Jack’s memory. Just like the fictional Pearson family, we can all benefit from taking a moment to honor the connections we still have to our loved ones. Doing so is precisely what drives happiness and fuels our capacity for resilience.

Photo courtesy: NBCUniversal

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