This is the first of four articles on legacy by Barry Baines and Tracie Bluse Ward, Celebrations of Life. They were published on the CaringBridge.org Amplifier Hub.
What comes to mind when you hear the word Legacy?
‘Something handed down from one generation to another’, ‘money or property left in a will of inheritance’, and ‘how you will be remembered’ are three common responses.
Why is Legacy important to us?
Because as humans, we’re hardwired to define our personal transcendence, we want to see our lives have meaning beyond our own lifetimes. We are invested in sharing our wisdom and life experiences, creating generational connections, finding purpose in our lives, and maintaining our vitality.
In this post, we focus on non-financial definitions of legacy, and reframe your view of legacy through a concept called a Legacy Journey®.
What is your Legacy Journey?
Simply stated, your Legacy Journey consists of your legacy of:
1. Your legacy of values takes the form of an ethical will or legacy letter. It is a way to articulate and share your values, beliefs, hopes and life lessons. When people first write their ethical will, they are often surprised at how it motivates them to live their life more intentionally, because it shares what is meaningful and important to us as well as for our family. “Going public” with our values clearly has an impact on how we choose to live our lives going forward.
And in hospice work, we have seen how a legacy letter written for family and friends can bring healing, comfort, and closure to those at the end of their days.
2. Your legacy of wisdom takes the form of a life reflection story, a continuum of short stories to share the life lessons and wisdom gained from living our lives so far. Everyone who has lived their life has a story worth sharing. And those who are navigating or have navigated through a challenging health journey usually accumulate much wisdom in the process.
A friend and stroke survivor has leveraged her life experience by volunteering her time conducting group writing sessions with stroke and cancer survivors. The outcome is for writers to document their journeys as well as provide a legacy of wisdom and human resilience in the face of difficult situations to instill hope in others about to embark on a similar experience.
Life reflection stories can also help us honor our parents and grandparents, share our meaningful life experiences and wisdom with our loved ones, and gain a better understanding our life purpose.
3. Your legacy of generosity takes the form of a ”Making a Difference Plan” to inspire generosity and motivate action toward the causes and people you care about. We recently heard the story of an individual who was miraculously (her words) cured of a significant health condition. A CaringBridge user herself, she is so grateful for the support she received during her illness that she wants to become a volunteer and use the gift of her time to give back to the CaringBridge community. This is an excellent example of creating a legacy of generosity.
We hope this post has enhanced your thinking about how you view legacy. In our next post, we will delve into the importance of creating an ethical will/legacy letter…your Legacy of Values.
Have you considered how you will you create your legacy and live your life more intentionally?