Leaving a legacy isn’t optional. Every day that you are living you’re making your mark on the world. Your kindness lives in the hearts of those you’ve shared it with. Your harshness wounds those you’ve inflicted it on.
When you die - and someone writes your obituary - what do you want it to say? I want mine to talk about how I made people feel. Loved. Heard. Understood. Included. That’s the legacy I want to leave behind.
As an end-of-life doula I have the honor of working with the dying and their circle of care. When I get to know a client I ask what is most pressing for them. We don’t always work on legacy projects. Sometimes we talk about logistics - getting advanced directives done, supports lined up so they are likely to die at home when that’s their wish. But a lot of time we talk about legacy.
People want their children, partners, and dear friends to know how much they cherish them. They want to share those things they loved most in life with future generations. And in those cases we talk about legacy and remembrance projects.
Legacy and remembrance projects can be grand or humble. But no matter what they’re a gift. Many gifts. Planning a legacy project forces you to reflect on your values. Working on a project is a way of living your values. And after you are gone they are a gift to those you’ve left behind. A legacy project might look like:
In some cases family and friends choose to do a legacy project in honor of a loved one who has passed. It’s a beautiful way to not only honor a person, but to tend to grief for someone who had died. Reflecting on a person's role in your life, what was unique about them, what interests made them come alive is a healing - and yet sometimes still painful - process.
I love supporting legacy projects and I think they’re so valuable. I hope you'll consider the legacy you will leave behind and the legacy of each your loved ones who has already died.