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This is Your Life: Host a personal show during hospice

By Ron King

In 1948, the radio program “This is Your Life” was created and moved to TV in 1952.  Guests on the live broadcast were greeted by people from the past who had played a role in their lives along with fond memories, stories and words of appreciation.  This gift of recollection brought surprise, gratitude and joy to those being honored.  The choice of guests had nothing to do with age or health, but each had lived long enough to have a trail of friends with years of memories.  Sharing these intimate moments with a vast audience was possible through the medium of radio and TV, an element that added weight to the words spoken.

Hospice can provide the rest and freedom needed to reflect on what remains.  Conscious awareness that our time is limited helps us make the most of each day.  Gathering positive moments and rehearsing them one more time establishes the lessons learned and wisdom gained for future generations.   Taking time for a “This is Your Life” celebration opens the door for gratitude and hope, important resources in facing physical decline.

As a child, I remember watching with the hope that as I grew older there would be a few people who could someday tell stories about the meaning of my own life and purposes I’d serve, some mighty exploit or great contribution I would make.

The truth is that each life contains heroes that influence us and tales of influence we have left in the lives of friends, neighbors, teams, associations, businesses, communities, and family.  We may recite the importance of a life well lived on Father’s or Mother’s Day, at a funeral or retirement party.  The difference we make, the value of our words, choices and actions adds meaning to the final days of life.

When we can look back together and be reminded of the good that exists because of our years on earth, a satisfaction and sense of purpose exists in the very hour we may need it most.   When every medical report and pain remind us that our bodies don’t last forever, we need to know that our influence can live on beyond our physical strength and life.


I often considered the work involved in gathering all the witnesses, partners, mentors and history required for each episode of the TV show.  Think of yourself as the program manager creating an episode of  “This is Your Life” for the one you love.  Work to bring together the people and stories that would be worth sharing with a national audience.  As production designer, create a description of the most important moments.  Broadcast it into daily conversations and final gatherings.

Guests of the television show would often shed tears, but they were always tears that washed away regrets and watered dreams for the future.  This is your life.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Well said. Wouldn’t it be great if we felt this way throughout the life cycle instead waiting to think about it all too often, when time is short.

    July 9, 2012
  2. Yes, Beth, living each day with awareness and conversation about memorable events and relationships would be great. Maybe we’re making some progress if we notice and declare these events before the funeral.

    July 10, 2012

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