I have been thinking a lot about legacy these days. The start of a new year always puts me in the mood to be more intentional about what I want for the next 12 months. Yes, it’s goal setting time, but more importantly, I want be more deliberate in how I show up and leave a positive impact with my life this year.

If you could leave the people you love with something important when you check out of life, what would it be?

  • Your grandmother’s rocking chair?
  • Your family photos?
  • Your home?

When we think about leaving a legacy, so often what we’re talking about is grounded in materialism – in things collected, loved, handed down, that have resonance for us. But...

  • Do your loved ones know why those things matter to you?
  • Do they know the stories of the people from whom those treasures came?
  • Do they know what you hold dear?
  • Who you were as a child?
  • What really made you who you are?
  • What words of advice or encouragement do you want them to carry with them through their lives?

Surely, to those who love you and whom you love, these thoughts and memories are at least as important as Grandma’s rocking chair – and much less fragile. That’s why, when I saw THIS wonderful story about legacy letters, I knew I needed to write about it – and create one for myself.

What exactly is a legacy letter? To start with, it’s not a legal document. Sometimes called an ethical will, it’s really whatever matters most to you; a very personal distillation of your values and experience. There are really no set rules or rigid guidelines on what needs to be in it, and yours will be unique to you.

But like a legal will, it’s very much better to prepare it well ahead of need, and to share it with the people for whom it’s intended while you’re on this earth. It’s an act of love and giving that will help to define you, and to comfort those you leave behind. One expert in the topic, hospice medical director Dr. Barry Baines of Minneapolis, suggests you begin with three questions:

  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • What's something you've learned from your parents?
  • What challenges have you overcome?

You don’t have to be a hospice worker to know that none of us are here forever – but for most of us, the “end” seems like a distant abstraction. So much to do, so little time – that's certainly my experience! But some things are worth making time for, and writing and sharing your legacy letter is one of those. We spend our lives working to pile up material wealth, hoping to make life easier and the path smoother for our families and friends or causes. But what we leave in the hearts and memories of those we love is so much more important.

Make creating your own legacy letter your first important act of 2019, and Happy New Year!


Here’s a beautiful story that shows the powerful ripple effect thoughtful legacy letters can have on those for whom they’re intended – in this case, the growing children of a woman whose terminal diagnosis meant that leaving her legacy letters was something she couldn’t put off. Her thoughtfulness and care meant her now-adult children heard from their loving mom for years after her passing, via loving missives set aside to be opened at special turning points in their own lives. What a courageous gift! As the author tells the story…:

“I first heard about the letters at her memorial service in 2013. This past spring, working on a book about death and dying, I reached out to her second-born son, Jerry, who was writing about the loss of his mother, to ask if he’d be willing to share his letters from her. He’d already gotten two — one soon after her death and one when he graduated from college — and after some hesitation, he said okay. Now 24, Jerry will get the final letter when he marries.

“The letters my mother left me are among the most precious gifts I possess,” he told me. “She diligently took the time, the very limited time, as her life was coming to an end to sit down and think about her children’s futures.”

So one day, in perfect cursive penmanship and blue ink after her oncologist told her she had only weeks left, Jacquie wrote her first letter to Jerry, then age 19, to be opened after she died…”

For more inspiration and ideas on how to create your own legacy letter, along with other projects designed to help you leave a meaningful and personal legacy of love for those who matter to you, check out Celebrations of Life - https://celebrationsoflife.net/- a terrific website full of free resources and a great place to start!


What do great hospice workers do on their days off? Volunteer to help others, naturally– at least, that’s how our friends at Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice spend their spare time:

“Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice staff rallied together to create new apartment kits for New Beginnings. New Beginnings, based out of Lewiston, has been serving runaway and homeless youth and their families since 1980. Each year, hospice staff select a local nonprofit to be their Community Partner. New Beginnings was the organization selected this year. Hospice staff collected enough items to build at least 25 new apartment kits. Kits include items such as utensils, plates, bowls, cutlery, pots and pans, laundry items, cleaning supplies, paper goods and towels.”


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