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I grew up in a multigenerational home. It taught me to be patient and to talk openly about death.

I grew up in a multigenerational home. It taught me to be patient and to talk openly about death.
  • I lived with my parents, a great-grandmother, a great-aunt, a grandmother, and my two siblings.

  • We jokingly called our multi-generational home "the house that never sleeps."

  • I learned to talk openly about death and to take as many videos as possible.

My childhood home was nicknamed "the house that never sleeps." I lived with my parents, maternal great-grandmother (whom we called Nannie), great-aunt, grandmother, older brother, and younger sister.

It was always loud, and no family is ever perfect, but there were always loving elders inside that house that never slept. I felt lucky to live with a Nannie who would read "Mother Goose" stories on demand, a hilarious Aunt Alice, or a master chef like Grandma Kay.

It was like growing up with "The Golden Girls" but with pineapple upside-down cake instead of cheesecake.

Here's what being raised in a multigenerational home taught me.

Maintain relationships with older family members

While a great aunt might seem like the kind of family member that you only see every other year, they can be some of your best friends.

I was not only close with my great Aunt Alice, who lived with me, but also with my dad's Aunt Sue. It's easy to lose touch with these more distant relations, but getting to know them can give you a more complete picture of your family's story.

Aunt Sue died a few weeks ago at the age of 99, and she was the last of her generation that I really know. By staying close with her, my siblings and I got over 10 extra years of loving grandparent energy.

Be patient

One day, you will need help with some new technology or for someone to wait patiently while you walk slowly into a restaurant.

Cherish these moments and be quick to forget the more annoying times. You will miss being asked about certain celebrities or shuttling grandparents to doctor's appointments and grocery stores.

Take lots of videos

Don't worry about how you look, and take the video. Our footage of my paternal Grandma Ann teaching my sister how to make her homemade pizza is like a cookbook come to life. This medium is particularly helpful if you also come from a family of cooks who never measured or wrote anything down — looking at you, Grandma Kay.

Thank you for digitizing our home movies, Dad.

Don't paint with broad strokes

Try not to generalize any generation too much. I'm guilty of this, but generations are not monoliths.

There are some things that we will just never understand about one another, but there are more similarities than differences when you look for them.

Woman posing with older family members
The author learned to talk about death thanks to her multigenerational living.Courtesy of the author

I constantly thought of how my grandparents survived the Great Depression during the early days of the pandemic, and it made me feel more connected to them. I could feel their lived experiences in some ways during those terrifying months of 2020.

Don't just eat a cookie that's lying on the counter

It could be a fiber cookie that will wreak some havoc on your spry, 12-year-old digestive system.

Be ready to advocate

The American healthcare system is needlessly complicated. You must advocate for yourself and your loved ones to navigate it.

I watched my mom spend hours making doctor's appointments, juggling insurance information, and remembering which specialist did what. It's safe to assume that something will always take longer than expected, so plan ahead.

Talk about death

My Nannie was the first to die in the house that never sleeps. As a 7-year-old, I didn't fully understand what was going on, but watching her end-of-life care and talking about it directly helped me process it.

I learned that it was OK to feel sad or angry or confused, but avoiding it wouldn't make it go away. Have a death plan, and make sure that your loved ones know it.

Read the original article on Business Insider