Over the course of our lifetimes, we accumulate more than just possessions.
Memories, values, and lessons learned are among the things we acquire that are far more meaningful than money. Regardless of the size of your material estate, you can hand down these intangible assets in the form of a legacy letter. Also called ethical wills, legacy letters are not legal documents but they can be every bit as significant as a last will and testament. They impart the tacit knowledge you gained from your time on earth, such as your hopes, dreams, morals, and life lessons. What could be more important than that? Here are five good reasons to get started on your legacy letter today.
Your life has meaning.
To your family members, you are far more important than any famed celebrity or athlete. Don’t feel that you need to compete with others or worry that you haven’t achieved enough. Your life lessons and experiences as a parent, child, grandparent, sibling, or godparent are extremely valuable to your loved ones. And don’t feel that you must be a parent to write a legacy letter. You can create them for your friends, neighbors, church, or community.
It provides an opportunity to share a rich history.
When we are called home, we all take with us our memories, experiences, and knowledge. If you lived through a significant event, take this opportunity to recount it from your perspective. What family stories can you share? If you have photos, newspaper clippings, or letters about the event, include them with your legacy letter to make it even more meaningful.
You can be as generous as you wish.
When it comes to material wealth, there’s a limit to how much you can share. With a legacy letter, however, the number of people whom you can gift your wisdom and thoughts is virtually limitless. Include all of your children and grandchildren. Writing a personal message to each person will be especially meaningful. If possible, include everyone in your immediate familial circle so no one feels left out. If writing individual messages is too excessive, draft a single group note to everyone instead.
It allows you to define your value and live them with intention.
What values do you hold most dear? You can start by compiling a shortlist that might include items such as spending time with family, worshipping God, and/or having a strong work ethic. As you jot down your values, you’ll begin to see how your actions line up with them. If you feel that you’re falling short in representing your key principles, it’s not too late to make some changes. As long as you’re alive, you can always work towards embodying your values.
Make amends and heal your heart.
Your legacy letter can encompass more than fond memories and ideals. It also allows you to forgive those who may have wronged you, or to ask forgiveness from those whom you’ve wronged. Doing so will relieve yourself and others from holding onto past hurts. It’s a gift that is truly priceless.
A legacy letter isn’t only an end-of-life activity.
The sooner you start your letter, the more quickly you can enjoy the legacy you’ll be leaving behind. It also guarantees that you’ll complete the document. Too often, we purchase scrapbooks and journals only to leave them blank. What matters most is getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper, so get started on your legacy letter today.
At Evan W. Smith Funeral Services, we’re here to provide compassionate support to you and your family. If you would like more information about legacy letters or have an end-of-life need, please reach out to us.
About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.