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Loving Legacy

Leaving a legacy is something that can ease our concerns at end of life, providing a satisfying resolution to a life well-lived. Reflecting on past experience is itself a way to review our place in the world and among those we love.

People may feel that leaving financial resources to their loved ones is the only way to create a legacy, but there are many ways to give of yourself to family and friends that do not involve money, property, or legal documents. What is a legacy, exactly?

A legacy is a way to ensure connections with generations that follow long after you are gone.

There are many lasting ways to share of ourselves with others. They may include:

Organizing a recipe box with family favorites. Food is a proven way to make connections, and creating recipes that reflect shared family memories is an act of love that lives on. Consider keeping recipes in a small box or print them out and organize them into a notebook. There are also online opportunities to create and print recipe books that can be distributed to loved ones. These may include photos and detailed recipes. This is a smart gift idea or bonding activity for younger family members to present to their elders.

Writing a letter or recording your voice as you share memories or tell a favorite story. Many of us wish we could hear the voice of a loved one who has passed. An ethical will is a way to share your values, love for family, hopes for the future, and whatever is important to you. Holding a handwritten letter also provides a physical memento that may be treasured for generations. If the speaker is comfortable with the idea, a video recording can also serve this purpose, and can be done with a smart phone camera.

Create a photo album, scrapbook, or quilt. A photo album can be created physically or online, giving you the chance to sort through old photos (a great activity in itself) and organize them into a story. Scrapbooks or quilts provide the creative among us a chance to shine. Quilts made of clothing belonging to a loved one, or a scrapbook highlighting life events, provide memories that can be revisited time and again.

There are many ways to leave a legacy that can feel more personal and meaningful than a traditional inheritance alone can provide. Any of these activities can help give meaning and make memories as life draws to a close. While end of life is a challenging time for all involved, it can also be a time filled with meaning, shared memories, and love.


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