Legacy Letters: Share Your Values, Not Just Your Assets

By: VGFS
Sunday, July 7, 2019

We accumulate more than just our possessions over a lifetime. If you want to leave something more lasting and meaningful than material wealth, consider writing a legacy letter.

Creating a legacy letter, also known as an ethical will, allows you to provide your family with comfort and to reflect on your life’s meaning. Although one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to writing a legacy letter, there are some best practices to follow. Below are some of the best tips for creating an impactful legacy letter.

 

Write a letter. Legacy letters aren’t legal documents like your will or living will, and they don’t need to be written in a particular way. Consider your legacy letter/ethical will a love letter to your family and friends. You can write individual letters to each person, but that can become overwhelming. To start, address your letter to family and friends and begin with why you are writing this letter and what you hope future generations will gain from it. Include feelings, anecdotes, humor, and whatever else you would include in a personal letter. This may feel like a very intimate and private exercise, but that’s because it is one. Don’t hold back on telling others you love them or communicating what matters most to you.

Start now. Starting your legacy letter isn’t only an end-of-life activity. The sooner you start your legacy letter, the sooner you can reflect on and enjoy the legacy you’re leaving behind. Starting now also guarantees that you’ll complete the document. Too often, we purchase photo albums, scrapbooks, and journals only to leave them blank. You can create a series of letters or one long one. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling. What matters most is getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper.

Tell others. Let family and friends know that you’re writing a legacy letter. This non-legal document should be treated as respectfully as the will that determines where your material wealth will go. It’s up to you whether you want to let family and friends read it now or after you’ve passed. Enlist a trusted friend or family member to read a draft of your letter. Choose someone who’ll give honest feedback. The last thing that you want is to leave someone out (say a grandchild or niece) and have your letter incur hurt feelings. A second pair of eyes can also provide ideas you didn’t think of yourself.

Be aspirational. As long as you’re living, your life is yours to create. Maybe you haven’t yet gotten to live out all of the values you hold dear—but you can start now. You can start now. Write down which morals you tried to live your life by and what you value in others. Use specific examples. Include what you wish you’d done differently and explain how it helped you realize what you cherish the most. You don’t to be famous or have made history. This is a personal record of your life story, lessons learned, and the values you wish to impart to future generations. Think big as far as your aspirations, but also realize that the process of living a regular life is just as meaningful.

Include history. We all take with us our memories and knowledge of the past when we’re called home. If you lived through one or more significant events, use this as a chance to recount the day from your perspective. If you have newspaper clippings, letters, or photographs, you can include them with your legacy letter. If locating these documents is too much, start with a photo or clipping that you have on hand. What story can you tell about it? What is happening in the photograph that others may not know about?

Make amends. Your legacy letter is not just about memories and values. It also gives you the opportunity to forgive those who may have wronged you, or to ask forgiveness from those whom you’ve wronged. Doing so will free up your conscious and allow you to tie up loose ends. Try not to attack or blame the other person. The goal is to relieve yourself and that person from holding onto past hurts. It’s a gift that is truly priceless.

Leaving behind a legacy letter can be one of the most meaningful and important documents you leave for your loved ones. Contemplating the end of our existence can bring up complex emotions, so don’t be surprised if you feel sentimental while you’re crafting your document. By writing an ethical will, you’re able to summarize your life’s purpose and continue to shape future generations for a long time to come.

If you need assistance with planning your end of life documents or need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our caring staff members would be honored to speak with you.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Your Guide to Understanding Cremation: Seven Fascinating Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Understanding cremation reveals countless misconceptions about the ancient practice. Cremation has been around for centuries but it remains surrounded by mystery. You might be surprised to know th...

Reflecting on Black History Month, The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion

During Black History Month, we celebrate African Americans and the role they have played in building this country, as well as recognize their achievements. Diversity and inclusion are essential in...

Need an Alternative to Traditional Funeral Flowers? Here are Eight Smart Options.

Eco-friendly alternatives to traditional funeral flowers have emerged as a growing trend in end-of-life services. As more people become conscious of their environmental impact, they are seeking wa...

Winter Heart Attacks: Why They’re More Common and How to Avoid Them

The colder months bring more than just frosty weather—they also bring a greater chance of winter heart attacks. The winter season is usually associated with cozy blankets, warm fires, and snowy ou...

Condolence Messages: How to Find the Right Words at a Difficult Time

It’s very common to have a hard time finding the right words when composing condolence messages. Whether you are posting to an online sympathy board or sending your condolences by mail, knowing wh...

Looking to Celebrate Martin Luther King Day 2024? Here Are Five Inspiring Ideas.

Martin Luther King Day is an annual celebration of Dr. King’s immeasurable contributions. Celebrated in the United States on the third Monday of January, the holiday is a time when the nation paus...

New Year, New You: How To Work On You This Year

Every year, millions of Americans set goals to be better.  For some, that means working out more and eating vegetables.  For others, that means reading more and watching less television....

Six Unexpected Causes of Pneumonia: Are You at Risk?

From unusual sources to overlooked factors, the causes of pneumonia are more surprising and wide-ranging than you might imagine. Pneumonia, a common yet potentially serious respiratory infection, ...

Here’s Why Funeral and Estate Planning Should Be Among Your New Year’s Resolutions

The decisions we make in funeral and estate planning shape our legacy of love and deliver unparalleled peace of mind. New Year’s resolutions are the things we vow to do to better ourselves in the ...

Celebrate the Spirit of Your Loved One with Personalized Holiday Memorials

Personalized holiday memorials create a special space for remembrance during the festive season. As the holidays unfold, our thoughts naturally turn to the loved ones who, though absent, remain ev...