“Working with or honoring your loved one through a legacy project can bring them great comfort knowing they will not be forgotten. It’s also healing for families and friends, creating together, something special and memorable in honor of their loved one.”
A question many of us ask ourselves during our lifetime is “how will I be remembered”?
We go to great lengths to create our legacy or be remembered, whether we are conscious of it or not. For some, there’s an underlying fear we may be forgotten when we die.
Creating our legacy can look many ways. Through the arts & sciences, “making a mark” in research or literature, or being popular via social media. The list goes on and on.
This is why Legacy Projects can be so significant during end of life care. Working with or honoring your loved one through a legacy project can bring them great comfort knowing they will not be forgotten. It’s also healing for families and friends, creating together, something special and memorable in honor of their loved one.End of Life Doulas are a wonderful resource for Legacy Projects, as well as hospice volunteers.
Legacy projects include, but are not limited to:
A family cookbook made out of their favorite recipes
A scrapbook with pictures, letters and keepsakes of different occasions that you have spent together
A blanket made of your favorite T-shirts or other fabric items
A video montage of favorite times together
iPhone interviews. I did this with my Mom, bedside. I asked her questions about when she was younger, her family, etc…
Fill out cards with cherished memories that can be handed out later
Write a poem or a song with or specifically about your loved one
Create a playlist of their favorite songs
Memory boxes with notes and photos for specific people in their life
Ornaments or window hangings
Plant a tree or a flowerbed of their favorite flowers
There’s no time limit for honoring someone with a legacy project. In 2017, my sister Robin passed away within 5 weeks from cancer… it was sudden and devastating. With our lack of time together, combined with my grief, the last thing I was thinking about was a project.
A year later, as her 1 year death anniversary was approaching, I knew it was going to be a difficult day for me. For a long time I had wanted to create my own essential oil blends, and I decided to combine that with a legacy project. I combined her love for the scent of patchouli with my love of vanilla, added some turquoise and rainbow, and created the Flower Child fragrance. I named my small business Rockin’ Robin US . It’s a humble dedication to someone I loved so dearly.
Another beautiful legacy story left me with food for thought. It’s about a friend whose Mother had passed away from cancer. He said “there was a beautiful reception, loads of laughter and the room was filled with love. Everyone shared stories about my Mom, her infectious laugh and her huge heart”.
I remember thinking to myself , who would come to my life celebration? Would they remember our good times spent together, our laughs, and how much I loved them?
Not all legacy projects have to be tangible.
Will it really matter if we become famous, make millions or are “the best” at something”? Or will it be how we affect other people in our lives? What will people share about you when you go? What would you like them to say about you? How would you like to be remembered? All of these are good questions to ponder when you are fortunate to have the time.
Keep in mind the following:
It does not have to be something that is done at the end of life
Turning it into an activity to do with your loved one can help you process death and be a therapeutic opportunity for both parties
Talking to loved ones about their project while they are alive lets them feel honored and appreciated, not pushed out the door
It’s an opportunity to find out new things towards the end of their life they may have never shared before
It might be awkward/difficult at first, but once the ball gets rolling it can be extremely healing for all those involved in creating it
And it’s also okay to do this afterwards. There’s no “right” way to do it and it’s okay if you don’t have the opportunity to involve them while they’re here
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