Leaving a Legacy
Dictionary.com describes legacy as:
- A gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will;
- Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor
What do you want to pass on? Certainly the obvious comes to mind: the wealth you have amassed, your home and whatever land you own. You think to pass on those items with sentimental value such as Grandpa’s watch, that antique desk, Grandma’s pearls to name a few. These items can be invaluable to those receiving them. When my Grandma passed away in 2009 I took home a beautiful quilt that has been one of my treasured possessions since the moment I took it home.
You’ve given your children and loved ones your money and valued mementos of the past. Money gets spent, houses get sold, and over a generation or two the sentimentality associated with your prized possessions can be forgotten.
So what is left of you as the years go on? There was more to your life than your home and the material possessions; it’s important that you are remembered for that. That is your legacy. As the definition describes “anything handed down” doesn’t limit your legacy to solely material possessions. You lived a complete life with stories, lessons learned, heart break, great loves stories, vacations, jobs, personal values, beliefs, what you hope for future generations of your family, and every important piece that makes up the puzzle that is you.
To ensure that all of your life’s lessons are not forgotten write it down! Journal your life’s experiences, create a scrapbook, or record yourself speaking your stories. Any way you record your life’s story is your Legacy Letter to your loved ones. Below is a basic template for creating your Legacy Letter.
- Opening: Address it to friends and family. Keep them in mind as your write the letter. Stay on topic.
- Your History, Past and Present:
- Childhood – those bumps and bruises that taught you the most?
- College Years – How did you spend your late teens and early twenties?
- Marriage – how did you meet your sweet heart?
- Having and Raising Children
- Your Work – What jobs have you held through your lifetime?
- Travel – Vacations, quick trips, spontaneous trips
- Your Later Years – How have you spent your retirement?
- World events – What significant world events took place during your lifetime? How did they affect you?
- Family History – What do you know about the history of your family?
- Personal Values and Beliefs: What values carried you through life? What guided you morally, personally, creatively?
- Which values were important to you at different points throughout your life?
- Who showed you the importance of these values ?
- What values do you want to see in yourself and those around you?
- Hopes for the Future:
- What do you hope for from your family? You can list words for specific family members, your friends, your community and so on.
- Closing: sign your letter. Say goodbye to friends and family.
These are all just suggestions. Include what you’d like, omit what you’d like, add photos, add anything that is important to you.
Ask yourself one important question as you put your Legacy Letter together: how do I want to be remembered? Let what your hope for your legacy be your guide.